Top 10 Computer Security Tips

  1. Download and install software updates. Turn on automatic updating such as the Windows automatic update feature. Carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement, before installing anything on your computer.
  2. Install antivirus software, and download the most updated virus definitions, engines and software to ensure your virus program remains effective. For more information about antivirus software available from UBC IT, please visit the antivirus webpage for support details, FAQ, and download instructions.
  3. Install a firewall such as the Windows Firewall which comes with Windows XP SP 2, or the built-in firewalls in MacOS X and Linux.
  4. Do not use illegal or "pirated" software, and avoid disreputable web sites.
  5. Only open email attachments from someone you know and trust. 
  6. Keep your user IDs and passwords confidential--do not share them with anyone. In addition, do not allow anyone to use your computer or leave it unattended for any period of time while logged on.
  7. Create strong passwords.  Use 8 characters or more and create different passwords for each system.  Change your passwords every three months for maximum security.  Check out the password security section for tips on how to create an effective password.   Memorize your passwords --do not write them down or store them where others might gain access to them. Consider installing a password management application such as KeePass ( to create unique passwords for all of your needs and secure that list of passwords with a common password.
  8. Keep your web browser current with vendor supplied patches and updates, and enable strong security and privacy settings including the use of a pop-up blocker.
  9. Set up your email filters to delete or file spam messages. You should delete spam messages unopened (Do not respond to spam, or follow any of the instructions in the email to "unsubscribe or to call a phone number).  Visit the email security section for more details on spam and how to avoid it.
  10. Back up your data on a regular basis. If you are the victim of a security incident, the only guaranteed way to repair your computer is to erase and re-install your whole machine.