Computer security reminders

Computer security breaches can be prevented with proper vigilence.

To prepare for spring, Fermilab recently conducted preparedness drills to test our severe weather alert system. Discovering potential alert system glitches in advance is critical. The same holds true for computer security. Take a few minutes to think how you can prevent computer security breaches.

Here are some computer security reminders that can help you prevent a severe event.

  • Avoid using weak passwords. Centrally managed systems at the laboratory enforce password complexity, but other systems depend on your diligence.
  • Don’t use passwords that have fewer than eight characters and are without numbers, capital letters or symbols. Simple passwords, such as your last name, are easy to crack. They make it easy for spammers to hijack your account and use it to send questionable content to anyone on your mailing list.
  • Don’t reuse passwords on important systems, like financial and centrally managed laboratory systems.
  • Don’t write passwords down on paper. Many people store passwords near their computers on post it notes or paper lists. Anyone can find this information and gain access.
  • Lock your office when you leave for the evening or when you’re gone for extended periods.
  • Lock your screen or log out of your workstation whenever you leave it.
  • Make sure your computer implements a password-protected screen-lock. If unlocked, strangers can access your files, your e-mail and proprietary software.
  • Don’t put unrecognized or unsolicited media (CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, thumb drives) in your computer. If you are suspicious of a piece of media, take it to the Service Desk in Wilson Hall. They will scan it for you
  • Ask for an ID when you encounter individuals who try to slip in and gain access to protected areas. They might ask you to hold a door, claim they lost their ID, or name people you don’t know as having authorized their entry.

— David J. Ritchie and Kimberly Myles