Maintaining a secure environment at Calvin College is more than just protecting your computer from viruses, malware, and hackers. It's also about protecting the sensitive college information to which you have access. While we work hard to make the network as secure as possible, it's important that all members of the Calvin community do their part as well.
Because we exist in a tight community, Calvin College faculty, staff, and students may be constantly barraged with emails seeking personal information including usernames, passwords, and more. By responding to these emails, you put Calvin information at risk.
In order to minimize the risk posed by malicious websites, Calvin Information Security blocks access to known phishing sites and known web domains used for the purpose of installing malware or spyware. If you attempt to go to one of these sites you will be redirected to a page information you that the page is being blocked by Calvin Information Technology.
If you believe a site you are trying to access is being blocked in error, please contact the HelpDesk.
Keep your Antivirus Updated
Antivirus software is your best defense against viruses. Microsoft provides Windows Defender for free and there are free options for Apple computers as well.
Calvin provisioned computers are equipped with Endpoint Protection which is updated automatically.
Update your Operating System and Applications
Microsoft, Apple, and Google periodically distribute updates to their computer and mobile operating systems to fix known problems and vulnerabilities. By enabling these system updates to run automatically, your computer will receive these updates as they become available and may notify you to install them. In most cases, it is best to install a system update as soon as you are notified they are available.
Calvin provisioned computers have updates delivered to them by CIT and should not have automatic updates enabled.
Spyware is any software that covertly gathers your information through your Internet connection without your knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. They allow organizations to monitor your Internet browsing patterns, profile your shopping preferences, send you unlimited pop-up adds, and may even install more unwanted software on your computer. Spyware applications usually come as a part of a freeware or shareware program you may have downloaded from the Internet.
Here are some common indicators that your computer has spyware or adware installed:
- Your homepage resets itself
- When you first open your web browser, you are taken to a different page than the one you specified
- Search results and links are distorted
- When you click on a link or search, you are taken to a different site than the one you expected
- Numerous and annoying pop-up ads
- Unwanted sofware installed
- Browser slowing down
- Your web browser slows down and web pages take a longer time to load
- Additional toolbars appearing in your web browser
- Toolbars claiming to be shopping or search helpers appear at the top of your web browser
Most spyware is installed without your knowledge when you click on a pop-up ad, download free files, or install free programs. Reading all prompts and being cautious about what you click on or install on your computer can help you avoid unwanted spyware and adware.
Do not install any software claiming to be a utility to speed up your computer, clean up your computer's drivers, or adware or spyware removal tools without checking with the HelpDesk.
Practice Defensive Computing
The best way to protect yourself against a system compromise is not to engage in activities which can leave you vulnerable to attacks.
- Never click any links in email messages from an unknown source.
- Never download email attachments unless you are certain the sender intended to send you the file and it's expected. Many email viruses will send copies of themselves to members of an address book, so you may actually know the apparent sender of the message. To be safe, verify with the sender that the message was intended for you before you download the attachment.
- Be very suspicious of any email from an unknown source, and never download files from an unknown source.
- Do not download software from unfamiliar or untrusted sources.
- Scan any portable hard drives you have used in public computers or have shared before using them in another computer.
- If you use Instant Messaging, do not run programs or follow links that people send to you.
- Do not use file sharing software. Downloading and/or sharing copyrighted material is illegal, and many Internet worms are spread through file sharing networks.
Be Careful what you Download
Spyware and malware is lurking where you least expect it. Be careful when you download peer-to-peer programs. Many of these programs also install spyware and malware onto your computer without your knowledge or consent.
Create Strong Passphrases and Passwords
Strong passphrases can help protect your computer and your accounts containing personal information.
Back up your Files
Because technology can at times prove unreliable, it is important to save your files in more than one location. You should save your personal files in at least two locations:
- your personal computer's hard drive
- your student/faculty/staff Novell account
- Cloud storage such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or iCloud Drive
- Portable hard drive
Calvin Information Technology provides guidance on where to store your files.