Obligatory requirements

Any computer on the College network must have antivirus software installed and kept up to date, and must also be kept up to date with security patches. Users should also set passwords for all their accounts, including the Administrator account(s). Without these precautions computers can very quickly find themselves under attack, which can cause the computer to stop working as well as problems such as theft or loss of personal data. Fortunately it is not too hard to comply with these requirements - once the initial installation and configuration is done most computers can normally be left to keep themselves updated.

Antivirus software

Windows 10 and 8 come with Windows Defender so you don't need to install any other antivirus software. Some computer come with trial versions of virus-checkers installed. If yours has this, check the status (e.g. whether it is working, when it expires, how often it updates). If you are unsure you can bring the computer in to the IT Office for advice.

If you do not already have suitable antivirus software you can obtain it from the University Information Services. Under the licence agreement it is free for the time you are at the University. Mac users should click here. Windows users should click here.

Before installing any antivirus software, be sure to cleanly uninstall any old antivirus software and reboot. Install the new virus checker immediately. It will automatically update itself daily.

Security patches

Security patches are updates that plug holes in operating system and application software that would otherwise allow an attacker to gain control of the system in some way. The University is a big target for hackers and attempts are made many times a day. The University has a team dedicated to keeping the network secure but as students' own computers are not University-run they can only be of limited help in this. Some viruses also propogate through security holes in the operating system.

In Windows 10 updates are obligatory and automatic. You don't need to do anything.

For Windows 8/7 the easiest way to patch your machine is to use the Windows Update in automatic mode. To find this, go to:

  • Windows 8:  Navigate to the Control Panel and go to | System and Security | Windows Update. Click on 'Change Settings'.
  • Windows 7  Start | Control Panel | Windows Update. Click on 'Change Settings'.

Ensure that updates are automatically downloaded and installed. Pick a time of day when your computer is likely to be on. If it is off it should get the updates next time it is turned on, but it is best to allow it to run as regularly as possible.

Linux users are required to know how to, and to do, their own updates. There is a local University Information Services ftp mirror of Debian and SUSE. Please contact the IT Office if you need any help.

Passwords

Not setting a password makes it easy for people to infiltrate your machine from the internet. Any password is better than none but try to choose something secure. See the second part of this page (under 'Choosing a strong and memorable password') for advice. You can get to your user accounts via the Control Panel (Windows users) or System Preferences (Mac users).