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Did you know that a computer that is not properly configured may be compromised within minutes of being connected to the Internet? Even worse, it is likely that a compromised system will be controlled by members of the criminal element within days. The following procedure will outline some steps that will reduce the risk of this occurring. These steps should be followed before connecting your computer to the Clarkson University computer network. If the Office of Information Technology has setup your computer for you, these steps have already been performed

Enable a Firewall

You must enable a firewall to keep hackers and their programs (viruses, worms, etc.) away from your computer. This will allow you to connect to the Internet and install critical security updates. Afterwards, the firewall will help protect you against future software defects. You should not connect your computer to the Clarkson University network until you have completed this step!

The firewall in Windows 7 and Windows 8 is enabled by default.

Download and Install Anti-Virus Software

Clarkson University requires that all student computers run an anti-virus program. Faculty and staff should contact the HelpDesk with questions about anti-virus software.

Students may find information about Free Antivirus Programs here:

Download and Install Windows Updates

Regularly applying operating system updates will fix the bugs in Windows that hackers use to invade our computers (and steal our identities, look at our bank accounts, etc.). To install these updates, use Internet Explorer to visit the Microsoft Windows Update website. You should repeatedly visit this website, until it tells you that there are no longer any critical updates that need to be installed. You may need to reboot your computer several times to complete this process.

Set a Strong Administrator Password

Windows computers let anyone who knows (or can guess) the Administrator password run and install software. This means that a computer with a weak password can have spyware and viruses installed on it without its owners knowledge or consent. This happens quite often. To set the Administrator password, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click icon labeled Computer on your desktop and select Manage. You can also access through Start --> right click on Computer on right side of Start menu
  2. Double-click on Local Users and Groups.
  3. Double-click on the Users folder.
  4. Right-click on the Administrator icon and click on Set Password.
  5. Set a strong password. 
  6. Click OK

Remove Spyware From Your Computer

If your computer is not brand-new, then it is likely that it has some form of spyware on it. Spyware is malicious software that collects your personal information and can cause your computer to operate poorly. There are several good spyware removal tools that are available for free. The one we suggest at Clarkson is: