PCs and Macs are targets of cybercriminals. They exploit your devices to steal your data and use your device to attack others. Here are some things you can do to help ensure that you are not a victim.

Run an anti-malware (anti-virus) solution

Windows 8 and Windows 10 include Windows Defender that provides basic service. Many campus departments use specific products and you should always utilize the departmental solution first. UCSB has a license for Sophos, which is delivered through campus IT departments. Sophos also provides a free solution for personal use.

Commercial solutions are available for the Mac. The university offers Sophos. Sophos also provides a free solution for personal use: https://home.sophos.com/. Clamxav is another option that offers a substantial discount to education users: https://www.clamxav.com/education.html.

Use a personal firewall

  • Both Windows and Mac systems include firewalls.
  • For Windows, mark new networks as public.
  • For Macs, set the firewall to block all incoming connections when you are using public networks.

Keep your system up to date

  • The latest versions of Windows and Mac OSX include security capabilities not present in earlier versions. You should consider updating older versions of the OS.
  • Set automatic updates and accept updates when they are available; don’t put them off.
  • Update other software on your device, like Microsoft Office, because they can also get attacked.
  • Web browsers must also be up to date. Many include auto-update features.
  • It is vitally important to keep Flash and Java up-to-date. These are vectors for a great deal of malware. Both may prompt for updates; always take them in a timely fashion.

Back up your device

  • Configure automatic backups to external drives, Mac time capsule, or online services. You can also backup to online storage like Box or Google Drive.

  • It’s always a good idea to make periodic backups to an external drive separate from other backup solutions. Backups fail and some malware will render data on attached drives unusable. Having a separate backup will address these problems.

Use encryption when it is available

  • Some versions of Windows 8 and Windows 10 include BitLocker full disk encryption. These require that a trusted platform module (TPM) be installed on your computer. Many newer PCs have a TPM and you should enable BitLocker if it is supported. Make sure to generate a recovery key and keep it safe.
  • Mac OS includes File Vault which can easily be turned on from system preferences. A recovery key will be generated when File Vault is first used. Keep the key safe.

Keep physical control of your device

  • For laptops and tablets, keep your device with you when possible.

  • Lock the device in a secure location when it is not possible to keep it with you.

  • Some devices work with locking devices (Kensington locks).
  • Always set your PC or Mac to lock after a few minutes of inactivity. Require a password to unlock the device.