Although Metropolitan State University does not support your home equipment, the following contains information you may find helpful on your home computer, as well as best practices at work, to keep you protected. By following some simple precautions, many system vulnerabilities may be prevented saving time, money, and allowing for uninterrupted access to your computer, documents, and network resources.

  1. Use antivirus software: All University owned computers have Symantec Antivirus installed and are set to automatically update.If you receive an email attachment that seems suspicious, check with the sender. If the sender did not send it delete the message. If you are unsure about the attachment delete the message anyway.

  2. To ensure against loss of personal information and the transmittal of viruses from home to work, keep your home computer operating systems up-to-date. To install updates on your home computer on a regular basis, consult your manufacturer's website or technical support hotline before installing any security patches and back up your data before installing any updates.

  3. Use strong passwords for all system accounts including bank accounts, network and email accounts, all software applications you access and any online accounts you use. Strong passwords consist of characters and numbers and should not contain anything that can be easily guessed such as birth date, login name, pet's name, etc. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. For information about Secure Passwords and Minnesota State System Guideline, go to Password Usage and Handling.

Change default passwords immediately and don't leave them blank. Do not share passwords with anyone. Remember: Metropolitan State University will NEVER ask you to verify personal information via email or over the phone. If you get a request that looks like it comes from the university asking for private information please report it to or call 651-793-1240 and do not respond to the message.

  1. Only install reputable licensed software and avoid disreputable websites. Contact the or call 651-793-1240 if you need software installed on your university owned computer.

Be aware that many free software packages available on the web install spyware (software that reports back web surfing habits and other personal information), adware (software that creates pop-up ads based on what web sites you visit or just periodically creates a spontaneous pop-up), or even Trojans (short for Trojan horse, a type of software that installs remote control or remote attacking software on your machine without your explicit knowledge). We wary of installing any software offered for free on your home computer and do not install it on you university owned machines without first consulting IT.

There are many free spyware and adware removal tools, be careful as some of these tools are spyware in itself. Spybot - Search & Destroy is a reputable and recommended tool that can detect and remove a multitude of adware files and modules from your home computer. If you believe your university owned computer may be infected with spyware contact IT. Do not attempt to remove it yourself.

  1. Protect your information by locking or shutting down your computer when you leave. An attacker can gain access to the network, change your password, change files, or even send e-mail as you if they are able to access a system you are logged into. An attacker who has compromised your computer can use it to attack other computers on the network as well. Locking your workstation when you leave it for short periods of time.

  2. Store confidential data only on a network drive, never on your local drive or other external removable media such as a USB drive.

  3. Always lock the door to your office, use a cable lock to secure your laptop and if not in use put your laptop in a drawer or overhead where it is out of site and can be locked.

  4. Never leave your laptop in a vehicle unattended where a passing thief can see it through the window, if necessary lock in your trunk.

  5. Consider non-traditional bags for carrying your laptop especially those emblazoned with big logos from the laptop manufacturer.

NOTE: If you store your laptop in the vehicle for any period of time, keep in mind that the extreme temperature ranges within the vehicle could cause problems. In summer the inside of a parked car can reach temperatures that will melt your laptop's components. In the winter, LCD screens can freeze and split.