The Top 10 Best Computing Practices as Complied by UCSC

The Top 10 Best Computing Practices as Complied by UCSC

Although complied by a University for a university, this top 10 list is relevant for just about any home or business. I especially like #9 – it’s the become one of the most common reasons for viruses seen on computers coming into the workshop of late – and one that is so easily avoidable!

Contact PC Pitstop for more info on any of these practices, 65 841 551.

Top 10 List of Good Computing Practices

General good computing practices and tips that apply to most people who use a computer.

For questions relating to any of the information contained on this page, please contact the ITS Support Center.

1. Use cryptic passwords that can’t be easily guessed and protect your passwords.

  • Don’t share your passwords and avoid writing them down.
  • Characteristics of good, cryptic passwords:
    • Contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
    • At least 8 characters in length (or longer if they’re less complex)
    • Difficult to guess (e.g. don’t include real words or personal information like user name, names of family members, places, pets, birthdays, addresses, hobbies, etc.)
    • Easy to remember (so you don’t have to write them down)
  • For additional information and tips, see UCSC’s Password Standards.
2. Beware of scams.

  • Don’t respond to email, instant messages (IM), texts, phone calls, etc., asking you for your password. You should never disclose your password to anyone, even if they say they work for UCSC, ITS, or other campus organizations.
  • Malicious links can infect your computer or take you to web pages designed to steal your information. Only click on links from trusted sources. Never click on a mystery link unless you have a way to independently verify that it is safe. This includes tiny URLs.
  • Malicious attachments can infect your computer. Don’t open unsolicited or unexpected attachments. If you can’t verify an attachment is legitimate, delete it.
  • Don’t give private information to anyone you don’t know or who doesn’t have a legitimate need for it — in person, over the phone, via e-mail, IM, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
3. Protect information when using the Internet and email.

  • Don’t log in to web sites or online applications unless the login page is secure. Don’t enter personal or sensitive information online unless you are using a trusted, secure web page.
    •  Look for https (not http) in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection.
  • Be especially careful about what you do over wireless. Information and passwords sent via standard, unencrypted wireless are especially easy for hackers to intercept (most public access wireless is unencrypted).
    • Hint: Set laptops and mobile devices to “ask” before joining networks so you don’t unknowingly connect to insecure wireless networks.
  • Don’t send restricted data via email. Email is not a secure method of communication.
  • Be extremely careful with filesharing software. Filesharing opens your computer to the risk of malicious files and attackers. Also, if you share copyrighted files, you risk being disconnected from the campus network, as well as serious legal consequences.
    • Students should check out ResNet’s Usage Guidelines for more information.
4. Secure your area before leaving it unattended.

  • Lock windows and doors, take keys out of drawers and doors, and never share your access code, card or key.
  • Be sure to lock up portable equipment and sensitive material before you leave an area unattended.
5. Secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all times: Lock them up or carry them with you at all times.

  • In your office or dorm room, at coffee shops, meetings, conferences, etc. – Remember: Phones and laptops get stolen from cars, houses, and offices all the time.
  • Make sure it is locked to or in something permanent.
  • Laptop lockdown cables are available at the Bay Tree Bookstore and most computer or office supply stores.
6. Shut down, lock, log off, or put your computer and other devices to sleep before leaving them unattended, and make sure they require a secure password to start up or wake-up.

  • <ctrl><alt><delete> or <Windows><L> on a PC; Apple menu or power button on a Mac.
  • Also set your computer and portable devices to automatically lock when they’re not being used.
7. Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and all necessary security “patches” and updates, and that you know what you need to do, if anything, to keep them current.

  • Shut down or restart your computer at least weekly — and whenever your programs tell you to in order to install updates. Shutting down or restarting your computer regularly helps to make sure software and security updates are properly installed.
  • Talk to your computer support person or the ITS Support Center (459-HELP) for assistance.
8. Protect Portable and Mobile Devices.

  • Don’t keep sensitive information or your only copy of critical data, projects, files, etc. on portable or mobile devices (such as laptop computers, data phones, memory sticks, CDs/DVDs/floppy disks, PDAs, etc.) unless they are properly protected. These items are extra vulnerable to theft or loss.
9. Don’t install or download unknown or unsolicited programs to your computer.

  • These can harbor behind-the-scenes computer viruses or open a “back door” giving others access to your computer without your knowledge.
10. Make backup copies of files or data you are not willing to lose — and store the copies very securely.


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Written by Ben Waters

Ben WatersOver 25 years helping build small businesses that work. Investor/Adventurer. Electronic Engineer and tech enthusiast.

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