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IT Services News No. 142 Nov-Dec 2009

Protecting your PC from Online Security Threats

    1. Introduction
    2. Five important steps to protect your PC from online threats
    3. Online PC security resources

1. Introduction

Internet can be a dangerous place.  There are many computer viruses, Trojan horses and spyware (collectively called 'malware') attacking computers on the Internet.  It is very important to protect your PC vigilantly against them because they not only affect the operation of your computer but also the performance of the entire HKU network.

2. Five important steps to protect your PC from online threats

(1) Keep your personal firewall turned ON to protect your PC from security threats.

A firewall helps to protect your PC from hackers over the network who might try to steal or delete your information, or even crash your PC, by exploiting vulnerability in the operating system of a PC. 

A firewall is included in most Windows operating system. To turn on Windows Firewall, please refer to the following links.

Windows XP

http://www.its.hku.hk/faq/pc/fw-winxp.htm

Windows Vista

http://www.its.hku.hk/faq/pc/fw-vista.htm

Windows 7

http://www.its.hku.hk/faq/pc/fw-win7.htm

(2) Perform Windows Critical Update whenever new Critical Update is available (usually in middle of a month)

High priority updates are critical to the security and reliability of your PC. They provide the latest protection against malicious activities. For details, refer to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com

(3) Install anti-virus software on your PC and update daily the virus definitions of your Anti-Virus software

Anti-virus software helps your PC to prevent computer viruses, and you need to keep it regularly updated.

Students can now download ONE copy of the Sophos anti-virus (SAV) software from HKU Portal (under the tab “Services” => under “Computer Centre Services” => “Download Sophos Anti-Virus”) and install it on a computer for work related to University studies during their stay at the University. SAV version 9.x is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Note:

  1. Remember to un-install any anti-virus software BEFORE installing another product or another version.

  2. It is not mandatory to use SAV version 9.x if you are using SAV version 7.x on Windows XP/Vista and Windows Server 2003/2008.  For more information, please refer to http://www.its.hku.hk/news/ccnews140/anti-virus-for-students.htm

(4) Install anti-spyware software on your PC.

Anti-spyware software helps your PC prevent spyware, and you need to keep it regularly updated.  Examples of anti-spyware software include:

  • Microsoft Windows Defender is a free anti-spyware solution.  It helps protect against spyware and other unwanted software.  It is available as a no-cost download for Windows XP SP2 and higher, and comes with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Note: Microsoft also has a product called Microsoft Security Essentials which is for “home use” only and you should install this software on your computers in household for use by people who reside there. For license terms, please refer to http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/eula.aspx#mainNav.  You need to uninstall anti-virus or similar software before installing this product.

(5) Do NOT install peer-to-peer (P2P) software on your PC.

P2P software such as BT, Foxy may auto-download and redistribute other software without authorization and would infringe others' copyright and possibly without your knowledge, make your PC susceptible to network attacks such as port scanning, virus, Trojan horse or spyware.  Thus do not install such P2P software.

3. Online PC security resources

For more information on how to protect your PC from online threats, please refer to the following online resources:

FAQ on Healthy and Environmental Friendly PC provides information on how to protect your PC, information, account and passwords. It also discusses about information security at HKU.

FAQ on Computer Viruses provides answers to frequently asked questions on computer viruses and Trojan horses. It teaches users on how to remove computer viruses and Trojan horses (including spyware).

Microsoft Online Safety Website provides guidelines on how to protect yourself, your PC and your family online .

Microsoft Security Website provides the latest information on Windows security updates, tools and news.

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