Most of the time, our computers work just fine. We browse the internet, create documents and spreadsheets, edit images, and do all kinds of things with a relatively small number of conflicts. Then one day, we might log in to our computer and notice pop ups, ads, and all sorts of warnings that we’ve never seen before. The good news is that viruses, malware, and other kinds of malicious attacks on our computers are easily avoidable, and there are a few things you can do to defend yourself and protect your accounts and personal information.
Safe browsing habits
The easiest way to avoid viruses and malware is to practice safe browsing habits online.
When reading your email and visiting websites, you should avoid clicking links if you are unsure whether or not they lead to verifiably safe websites. Links to unsafe websites and downloads are often hidden in advertisements and links to third-party news articles and services.
Additionally, you should generally also avoid adding extensions and toolbars to your browser, unless you know exactly what services these provide, and can verify that they come from a reputable source. Otherwise, your browsing experience may become slow and bloated, and in some cases, unsafe. Other downloads should be avoided as well, unless you can verify that the download is secure. Generally, when downloading software, you should try to download from first-party sources when possible: e.g., if downloading Google Chrome, you should download the software from Google’s site, rather than a third-party website.
HTTPS is incredibly important for protecting personal data sent over the internet. In general, you should take careful note of whether websites have HTTPS enabled. You can check this by seeing if URLs for websites begin within HTTPS://, and most browsers will also have an additional note in the address bar with additional notation of HTTPS. In Chrome, for instance, note the “Secure” status with a lock whenever a website has HTTPS enabled. It is especially important that websites have HTTPS enabled when you will be using the website to submit important personal data, such as names, addresses, and credit card information.
Proper use of antivirus software can protect your computer from a vast number of threats. At Spring Hill College, Windows Defender is automatically installed for all Windows computers with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, and beyond. Some computers may also use Kaspersky Antivirus, which serves a similar purpose.
While simply having good, safe browsing habits and having trusted, tested antivirus software on your computer will likely keep you safe from most threats, you should also run regular scans to ensure that there is no malware stealthily lurking on your computer.
If you encounter any suspicious downloads, links, or other signs of malware, you can report these to the IT Helpdesk with any questions.
The Office of Information Technology and the IT Helpdesk are happy to answer any and all questions, and may be contacted via phone at 251-380-2276 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Hill College Office of Information Technology
For more information: