You've probably heard of email and computer viruses, computer hackers and phishing. You may think that none of this affects you, or you may not have really thought about any of this at all.
Your computer is expensive, and your hard work is even more valuable. Your personal data and files are priceless. These Secure IT pages aim to raise your awareness of the risks of attack from malicious activities and offer you information on how to keep your work, data and computer safe.
IT Security is relevant to you while you perform everyday tasks like opening your email or visiting your usual websites. These simple actions could expose you to computer viruses, trojans and malware. The result could mean your computer fails to work properly, or it may be hijacked by hackers using it to attack other computers. Often this happens without you realising it, and can result in you being pursued as the hacker yourself if the attack is traced to you.
To report security breaches, contact the Network Security team on +44 (0)20 7911 5000 ext. 64004 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We recommend that you regularly carry out these simple measures to help you to safeguard your computer and your personal details. Following these measures will also help you to comply with your responsibilities in the University's Acceptable Use of IT Policy.
Some measures will provide you with a layer of protection; others will make you more aware of potential threats. However, you should note that risks and threats are constantly evolving and changing, so you are advised to make the following recommendations part of your computing routine. For more information into how these security measures work, see the sections below.
More information can also be found at: www.getsafeonline.org
The University is offering staff and students a free download of Symantec Antivirus software (login required). Please Note: Windows 8 is now supported by this version of the software. The license of this version of the Symantec Anti-Virus expires on 1 February 2014. Other free options for antivirus or anti-spyware software can be found further below.
|Antivirus for students
||Windows 32 bit||Windows 64 bit
|Antivirus for staff
||Windows 32 bit||Windows 64 bit||Mac||Linux|
|Student (Mac uninstaller)
||Staff (Mac uninstaller)|
Spyware programs try to record and report your Internet search habits, or flash advertisements every time you go online. On its own spyware tends to be more of an annoyance. However, if there are enough spyware programs on your computer they could affect its performance or Internet connection.
Spyware is getting more dangerous as it can be used to inform hackers of your online habits, making you an easier target. Once hackers have this information about you they can block your computer's access to the original sites you visit and redirect it to their own replicated versions. This means that when you sign in or try to purchase something from the replicated site your passwords or banking details can be captured.
Other types of Spyware will use 'pop ups' to pretend to be something useful such as a security alert about infections. If you click on the link provided you risk falling into the trap, downloading a malicious piece of software or program.
There isn't one solution that will find or remove all spyware threats. The best solution is to have two different spyware tools that perform regular scans.
Please remember to update the software before scanning for threats each time.
Antivirus programs scan and remove most virus or trojan threats for you automatically. If you decide to use a free version you should get the programs from a trustworthy source so can trust that it will not contain any hidden malicious software. You should only download directly from the suppliers own site
Antivirus is only effective if it's kept updated as new threats and viruses are created all the time.
Some of the best antivirus options tend to be the all-in-one Internet security packages which can protect you behind a firewall, hide you from online attackers, and provide antivirus in one easy to use interface.
Always download from a trustworthy source. If you are still unsure then don't download it. All email attachments and downloaded files should be saved and then scanned with an antivirus product before being opened.
McAfee – Tips for virus detection and prevention home.mcafee.com/virusInfo/AntiVirusTips.aspx
Free Online Virus Scanners
BitDefender Online Scanner is an on-demand antivirus and antispyware tool that shows how safe your PC is. Accessible from your browser, it will scan and automatically clean the system memory, all files and drives boot sectors. (Windows XP and Windows Vista)
ESET Online Scanner is a user friendly, free and powerful tool which you can use to remove malware from any PC via your web browser.(Windows Xp, Windows Vista and Windows 7)
|F-Secure||Online Scanner can help get rid of viruses and spyware causing problems on your PC.|
|McAfee||McAfee FreeScan helps you detect thousands of viruses on your computer. Based on the award-winning McAfee VirusScan engine, FreeScan searches for viruses, including the latest known "in the wild" viruses, and displays a detailed list of any infected files.(Windows Xp, Windows Vista and Windows 7)|
|Microsoft Security Essentials||Microsoft Security Essentials is a free service designed to help ensure the health of your PC. (Windows Vista and Windows 7)|
|Panda||An advanced online scanner based on Collective Intelligence (scanning in-the-cloud) that detects malware that traditional security solutions cannot detect|
You should keep your version of your Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac operating system updated to protect against attacks from hackers.
Regularly installing security patches and new versions of your software makes your computer less vulnerable to hackers and malicious software.
You can either install the updates manually, or enable Automatic Updates to run the programs automatically, which means you dont need to remember to run them.
For more information, the latest updates, and for new versions of software visit:
|Get the latest versions and fixes|
Subscribe to receive their latest IT Security information
|Visit to receive the latest advice on protection and prevention from IT security threats|
If your work isn't safely backed up elsewhere, if could be lost for good. You can lose you work as a result of computer failure caused by a virus or malfunction. Or stored work on a USB or CD has become corrupted or lost.
You should keep at least one copy of your work on the H:drive, which is your own personal storage area. The H:drive is stored on the University's network servers so your files can be accessed from any computer, after you have logged in. The H:drive is also accessible from your home computer or laptop via https://filelinx.wmin.ac.ukStudents can also make use of the free online storage area provided with the University Student Google Mail accounts, where you can access your work from any computer with an Internet connection .
Staff members can visit Managing your files and folders for details on how organise and back up their work.
Passwords will help to keep your work and personal details safe by preventing access to your accounts and computer. You should not for obvious reasons therefore share the details of your passwords.
Strong passwords, with random characters are more secure making it difficult for someone to crack.
Here are some methods for making strong passwords:
Remember to take some time to create a password that you'll easily remember.
If you rush to create a new password, you may soon forget it, especially after a few weeks away from the University. To reset a forgotten password go to www.westminster.ac.uk/password
Find out more about your University network password and logging in"
IMPORTANT: Remember to log out if you are going to spend time away from the computer you should log out to ensure the security of your details and your work.
Also note that the PCs in the computer rooms are set to log you out after twenty minutes if not used, so any files temporarily saved to the desktop will be deleted.
While surfing the Internet, there are potential IT Security threats from replicated and fake websites.
There are free tools available that you can add to your browser that will warn you about potential threats on a webpage or search results before you visit those sites.
Other tools can warn you have strayed on to a fake Internet site designed to steal your money or details. These tools will inform you of any untrustworthy sites and will help you to browse more safely.
SiteAdvisor software adds safety ratings to your browser and search engine results. There is a free and a paid for version.
|SiteAdvisor software adds safety ratings to your browser and search engine results. There is a free and a paid for version.|
|McAfee Site Advisor for Mac (Mozilla Firefox)||SiteAdvisor software adds safety ratings to your browser and search engine results. There is a free and a paid for version.|
|NetCraft Anti-Phishing tool bar for Windows XP||Protect your savings from Phishing attacks. See the hosting location and risk rating of every site you visit.|
|Web Of Trust WOT||Use as a safe surfing tool for every member of your household|
Phishing is a scam where internet fraudsters, posing as reputable organisations, trick recipients into sharing personal or financial information with them.
Emails may appear to come from your bank or financial institution, a company you regularly do business with or a social networking site. They may include official-looking logos and convincing details about your personal history that the scammers found on your social networking pages. They might appear to be from someone in your email address book. They may include links to spoofed websites where you are asked to enter personal information. They might ask you to make a phone call, directing you to call a phone number where a person or an automated system waits to take your account number, personal identifcation number, password or other valuable personal data.
If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on any links.
Never email personal or financial information, as email is not a secure method of transmitting information. Only provide this information to an organisation through their website and look for indicators that it is secure (like a URL beginning with “https” - the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’).
Use antivirus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly.
Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorised charges. If your statement is late, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.
Try this fun quiz to test how aware you are: Think you can spot a scam? (created by knowthenet.org.uk)
Forward phishing emails to email@example.com and to the company, bank or organisation that has been impersonated in the email. You can also report phishing email to firstname.lastname@example.org (an Anti-Phishing Working Group).
If you believe you’ve been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaintand then visit the FTC’s identity theft website. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft.