No matter what your role at Northwestern—faculty, staff, student, or researcher—Internet browsing is essential to everyday life and work. Make sure you aren't at risk by reviewing the information below.
What is safe browsing?
Many people use the Internet on a daily basis without trouble, but it can harbor some hidden dangers to you and your computer. These risks can include exposure of sensitive personal information and infection by malware, which includes viruses, spyware, and adware. Safe browsing means being aware of these online threats and taking the necessary steps to avoid them.
It only takes a little bit of effort, a few tools, and some basic information to be safe as you browse the Internet. Follow these guidelines to protect your personal information and your computer online.
Update Web browsers regularly and enable security features
- Choose "Yes" when browser programs like Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari prompt you to update; current versions of these browsers protect you against security vulnerabilities in older versions
- Adjust security settings for Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari browsers to warn you about annoying and potentially dangerous threats to your security, like popups, spyware, and malicious add-ons
Install protective software
- Spybot Search & Destroy protects against spyware that other security tools might miss and it can safely be used with other antimalware programs like Symantec Endpoint Protection
- Web of Trust warns you if a Web page might pose a risk to your security and helps you verify that a page you are about to visit is legitimate
- Symantec Endpoint Protection is comprehensive security software that includes additional protection against spyware
Guard personal information
- Look for signs of an encrypted Web page when providing sensitive personal information (credit card or banking information, SSNs, etc.) online; key identifiers include a URL for the Web site's login page that begins with "https" and a padlock icon in your browser status bar (the location of this icon will vary based on browser)
Be wary of Internet downloads
- Streaming media Web sites might seem harmless, but watching or listening to streaming media may mean downloading a special media player that could contain malware
- Downloaded files like software or other media can hide malware on your computer without your knowledge
- If a download seems too good to be true, it probably is—don't risk it!
- University-Provided Security Software
- Manage Your Internet Browser
- Control Spyware
- Web of Trust
- Secure Browser Settings from US-CERT
- Get a Digital Security Reality Check
NUIT Information and Systems Security/Compliancesecurity@northwestern.edu
Last Updated: 12 September 2012