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Fall 2014 Faculty/Staff Edition

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Faculty/Staff Edition Fall 2014

“Information Security” is in the News … But What Does it Mean?

With security vulnerabilities like POODLE, Shellshock, and Heartbleed and information breaches like the ones at Target and Home Depot regularly headlining the nightly news, the term “information security” is becoming more and more common—and important—in our daily lives. But when it’s used in so many different contexts, the meaning can be hard to pin down.

Here’s what you need to know: information security means protecting three things—your devices, your data, and your network (especially at Northwestern).

Protect Your Devices

Laptops, smartphones, tablets, anddesktop computers—how many of these do you use each day? With so many devices, and so much information on each device, it’s essential to keep them protected. That means keeping them current and running strong antivirus software—yes, even on Macs!

NUIT makes using antivirus simple by providing Symantec Endpoint Protection at no cost to all students, faculty, and staff, and it can be installed on any computer you use at work or at home.

Mac users, listen up—Apple devices are becoming more frequent targets of security threats. Using antivirus software is a simple way to stay safe; there’s no reason not to do it. Symantec is easy to install and use simply by following the steps on the NUIT website.

On all devices, be sure to check for updates to essential software weekly to help protect you from vulnerabilities like Shellshock. Important software to keep updated includes:

It’s also essential to use strong passcodes on all devices, and cable locks on devices like laptops and desktops.

Protect Your Data

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe poster

“Your data” means personal details like passwords, birthdate, and Social Security numbers as well as files and information needed to do your job. To protect personal details, be sure your keep your NetID password secret—don’t share it with anyone, not even managers, coworkers, or family. Your NetID password gives access to your paycheck and bank details, tax information, health benefits, and so much more so it’s essential that it stay secret.

Lock your screen when you step away to keep others from accessing information on your computer and secure sensitive data with encryption software. On a daily basis, a constant stream of sensitive information crosses your desk. Student records, purchases with PO or credit cards, contracts, loan applications, emails in your University account, department accounts, information about your staff, and health records—just to list a potential few! This information all deserves to be protected. 

Protect Your Northwestern

Spot the Scam poster

Your active involvement is key in protecting the University, particularly when it comes to spotting scam email messages. While NUIT stops the majority of these emails before they reach your Inbox, you should learn the key identifiers of scam email especially when it asks you to log into University websites. One tell-tale sign of a scam is to check the URL—watch NUIT’s informative video to see how it’s done.

And it bears repeating: it’s important to keep your devices virus and malware-free—like a cold, these bugs can infect others quickly! Install and use free antivirus software on all computers you use regularly.

For more tips, be sure to download and post the Computer Security and Maintenance Checklist for faculty and staff and the “You are the Key to Information Security” posters from the NUIT website.

If you ever have a question about information security, contact the NUIT Support Center or send an email to

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