Network Operations Center -- 03/2010
This document is aimed at PC users on Dowling's administrative networks. Recommendations for secure computing on home and Residence PCs are at this page.
The Internet resembles America's old West, where the "rule of law" takes a back seat to Darwinism, the "survival of the fittest." In such an environment your PC is attacked from many directions, such as email, network traffic and plain-old web surfing. Your I.T. staff has worked very hard to protect Dowling's computing environment from harm. It's a continuing "arms race".
The danger here is that students' personal information, or yours, could be stolen. If the computer entrusted to you becomes compromised, it can provide a route into secure systems, from which social security numbers and other private data could be harvested and sold. So it is critically important that every PC inside Dowling's networks is properly secured. This requires your cooperation and assistance.
Below we have gathered some advice from many sources, including recommendations from colleagues, newsletters, personal experience and lots of security-related web sites.
- First, learn to operate your PC safely. Adjusting your behavior is the most effective prevention measure against security problems.
- Avoid visiting "questionable" sites. This is a judgement call, of course, but most people can tell when there's a problem. "Your" PC here at Dowling is provided to you so you can do your work; if you stay on business-related sites it is unlikely that your PC will be attacked.
- Never open an unexpected email attachment. Unless you're certain what that attachment contains, don't open it. Telephone the sender if you have any doubt.
"No legitimate organization on the planet will EVER send you an update file attached to an email message."
-- Patrick Douglas Crispen, http://www.netsquirrel.com/
- Use your Dowling email account ONLY for Dowling business. Use your home email or a free email from Hotmail, GMail, Yahoo, etc. for things that are not business-related.
- Give out as little information about yourself as possible. The FTC has a good site about identity theft at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.
- Backup your data:
- Store important files on J: - Whenever you login to the network it connects you to a personal storage space named "J:". This is your "home directory" on the network, and it's backed up every night. In the event your PC has serious problems, you can login at ANY administrative computer on campus to retrieve files from your J: drive.
- Copy important files to CD, flash drive or (last resort) floppy. This gives you quick access in case of data loss. Floppy disks are the smallest, least reliable storage medium so use them with caution, if at all.
- You are NOT PERMITTED to install software on Dowling PCs. If you need software installed on your PC please contact the Help Desk at x3445. There are many issues that arise with software installation, among them:
- Licensing: Does Dowling own the software you're installing? Unlicensed copies can cost the College hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing violation fines. Did you know that you could be held personally responsible for licensing and copyright violations on your PC?
- Stability: Is the software well-written? Poorly-coded programs can wreak havoc on a formerly smooth-running PC.
- "Trojan horse" programs: are you sure that's all you're installing? For example, many file-sharing programs install spyware that "phones home" about your web-surfing behavior, and popup programs that claim to protect your PC from viruses. What if that list of student IDs on your PC gets transmitted to identity thieves?
- Read and learn about the issues. Here are some comprehensive discussions of personal computer security from authoritative sources:
For further information and advice about safe computing on Dowling's PCs, please visit http://www.dowling.edu/mydowling/Tech/best-practices.html.
© 2007 Dowling College