The Internet provides us with a world of possibilities — but it also provides would-be hackers and thieves with plenty of opportunities to steal your private information. The best way to fight Internet crime is to learn how to avoid becoming a victim. Read on for general information and tips to safeguard yourself and your computer. Be sure to read the latest Computer Security Alert!
Ten Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself & Your Computer
- Students who have their computer connected to VCU’s network in their dorm room should turn them off when unattended. If the computer is turned on and connected to a live network, it is always live on the Web. The same rule of thumb applies to university faculty and staff.
- Users should not leave instant messenger, email or browsers running unattended. Malicious users may be able to access your computer through the “ports” used by these programs. This rule of thumb should be followed for most programs that access the Internet.
- Do not allow a program to “save” or “store” your password(s). Many browsers offer it as an option. If you use a public computer, such as in a library or classroom, and access a program that has saved your password, the next person that uses it will be able to access your personal items. They may be able to impersonate you and chat with your friends or email them. Always manually enter your password whenever the software asks for it.
- Choose passwords wisely. If you've chosen your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s name to be your password and someone knows his/her name, you've just given that person access.
- Be aware of files attached to emails. It may be a Trojan or virus file. If someone you do not know or trust has sent you a file via email, delete the message immediately. Do not download or open the file.
- If you make a purchase online, do so with a respectable business on a secured Web browser. A lock will appear at the bottom of the browser when it is safe to send. Don’t give out your credit card number or personal information to any private individual over the Web.
- Be aware of the pitfalls of get-rich-quick schemes in email messages. Most people who get involved in these schemes lose money.
- If you’ve installed anti-virus software on your computer, make sure you update it on a weekly basis. Once done, scan your entire system to ensure integrity. New viruses are created daily. An anti-virus program is only as good as the information it holds.
- Make sure that you have set your Web browser options to maximize your protection.
- Never give out personal information over the Web. If you become a victim of a computer crime, notify the police immediately. The VCU Police Department is here to help.
If you are a member of the university community and feel that you have fallen victim to any crime of this type, notify the VCU Police Department immediately by calling (804) 828-1234.
You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
This site contains links to external (non-VCU) websites. VCU is not responsible for the privacy practices or content on such websites.