Protecting Your Computer

All computer users connecting to the Internet by way of WMUnet (Western Michigan University's network) must practice safe computing to assure the integrety of the network. Computers that are unsafe, i.e. infected with viruses and/or vulnerable may be removed from the network until they can be verified as clean. Practicing safe computing will also protect individual's privacy, prevent identity theft, and protect computers and files from being damaged.

Be aware of phishing

Phishing is scam emails that look like they are from legitimate sources, asking you to provide personal and/or credit card information, either by replying to the email or clicking on a link that goes to what appears to be a legitimate website (but is not!). The three most used scams appear to be from a bank, Ebay, or PayPal, telling you there is a problem and that they need you to resubmit your information. Don't ever provide your information this way. Legitimate businesses would not ask you to do that. This is not to be confused with shopping online where you go to the legitimate website, place your order, and are then taken to a secure (https) page where you enter your information.

Use strong passwords and change them often

Passwords are case-sensitive and at WMU, dictionary words may not be used. In addition passwords must be a minimum of eight (8) characters long and must contain at least three (3) of the following character classes. See password guidelines for more information.

  • Uppercase letters
  • Lowercase letters
  • Numbers
  • Punctuation

Beware of copyright and illegal file sharing risks

File sharing using peer-to-peer networks has become very popular. It can however, have risks. For example, when you are connecting to file sharing programs, you may unknowingly allow others to copy private files you never intended to share. You may also download material that is protected by copyright laws and be sued. You can also download malware and cause security problems for your own computer and the University's network. Read more...

Five steps to safe computing

  1. Turn on a personal firewall
    Connecting to the Internet opens your computer to attacks which can steal passwords, credit card numbers, and destroy data. Turning on your personal firewall helps block attacks.
  2. Install and use anti-virus and anti-spyware software
    WMU provides and/or supports software, which provides both anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. See virus protection.
  3. Protect personal information
    Never, ever share personal information, such as social security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information, etc. via email or over the phone to someone who has called you.
  4. Do not share your Bronco NetID and password
    Your Bronco NetID and password define your online identity at Western Michigan University. It is used in GoWMU to conduct your personal business with the University. Guard your password as if it were a bank card PIN. Never share it and do not store it in obvious places such as a sticky note on your computer. No University employee should ever ask you for your password.
  5. Perform OS updates and enable automatic updates
    Security patches and updates occur frequently. You should have your (Windows) computer set to update automatically, which will take care of critical updates. You should also manually check for, and install OS updates that are not critical on a routine basis. See security patches and OS updates.