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City of Nichols Hills
Information Systems Manager
6407 Avondale Drive
Nichols Hills, OK 73116
6407 Avondale Drive
Nichols Hills, OK 73116
Phone: (405) 879-8870
Fax: (405) 848-7796
Contact: Neil A. Gray,
Information Systems Manger
Email: . .
Hours: 8:30AM-5:00PM
Good Security Habits


Cyber Security Tip ST04-003

There are some simple habits you can adopt that, if performed consistently, may dramatically reduce the chances that the information on your computer will be lost or corrupted.

How can you minimize the access other people have to your information?


You may be able to easily identify people who could, legitimately or not, gain physical access to your computer, family members, roommates, co-workers, members of a cleaning crew, and maybe others. Identifying   the people who could gain remote access to your computer becomes much   more difficult.  As long as you have a computer and connect it to a network, you are vulnerable to someone or something else accessing or corrupting your information; however, you can develop habits that make it more difficult.


  • Lock your computer when you are away from it. Even if you only step away from your computer for a few minutes, it's enough time for someone else to destroy or corrupt your information. Locking your computer prevents another person from being able to simply sit down at your computer and access all of your information.

  • Disconnect your computer from the Internet when you aren't using it.  The development of technologies such as DSL and cable modems have made it possible for users to be online all the time, but this convenience comes with risks. The likelihood that attackers or  viruses  scanning  the  network  for  available computers will target  your  computer  becomes  much  higher  if your computer is always  connected. Depending on what method you use to connect to the Internet, disconnecting may mean ending a dial-up connection, turning off your computer or modem, or disconnecting cables.

  • Evaluate your security settings. Most software, including browsers and  email  programs,  offers  a  variety of features that you can tailor  to  meet  your  needs  and  requirements. Enabling certain features to increase  convenience or functionality may leave you more vulnerable to being attacked. It is important to examine the settings, particularly  the security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. If you install a patch or new version of the software, or if you hear of  something  that  might  affect  your settings, reevaluate your settings to make sure they are still appropriate.


What other steps can you take?


Sometimes the threats to your information aren't from other people but from  natural  or  technological  causes.  Although there is no way to control or prevent these problems, you can prepare for them and try to minimize the damage.


  • Protect  your  computer against power surges. Aside from providing outlets  to plug in your computer and all of its peripherals, some power  strips  protect  your  computer  against power surges. Many power strips now advertise compensation if they do not effectively protect  your  computer.  During a lightning storm or construction work  that  increases  the odds of power surges, consider shutting your computer down and unplugging it from all power sources. Power strips alone  will  not protect you from power outages, but there are products  that  do offer an uninterruptible power supply when there are power surges or outages.

  • Back up all of your data. Whether or not you take steps to protect yourself,  there  will always be a possibility that something will happen to destroy your data. You have probably already experienced this at least once-- losing one or more files due to an accident, a virus  or  worm,  a  natural  event,  or  a  problem  with your equipment.  Regularly  backing  up  your  data  on a CD or network reduces  the  stress  and  other negative consequences that result from  losing  important information. Determining how often to back up  your data is a personal decision. If you are constantly adding or  changing  data,  you  may  find  weekly backups to be the best alternative;  if  your content rarely changes, you may decide that your backups do not need to be as frequent. You don't need to back up  software  that you own on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM--you can reinstall  the software from the original media if necessary.



  Authors: Mindi McDowell, Allen Householder 

  Copyright 2004 Carnegie Mellon University


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