Desktop Security Configuration and Management

Securing a Windows Computer

  1. Install security patches automatically by turning on auto update
  2. Use antivirus software
  3. Turn on Windows Firewall
  4. Backup your files

The majority of machines at Emory are running Windows operating systems. Many machines are compromised by hackers simply because they had Administrator accounts with no password or the file sharing setup allowed a hacker to connect and make changes so that he could remotely administer and run programs from the compromised computer system.

Securing a Mac

  1. Install all OSX updates through the App Store
  2. Use antivirus software
  3. Use the OSX firewall
  4. Backup your files

At Emory we have seen vulnerable computers compromised within a few hours of being placed on the network. Emory's academic network is not secured like a corporation where network access is severely limited. Our network allows easy access to network services to meet the needs of the University, but at the same time it makes it easy for hackers to scan our network for vulnerable computers.

Once a hacker gains access to your computer, they usually leave a "back-door" program in your computer which allows them to control your computer remotely. Then, the hacker uses your computer to attack other computers on the network. Hackers obtain "back-door" access to machines using music sharing peer-to-peer program like Kazaa, BearShare, LimeWire or Morpheus. The Security Team recommends that you not run these program on your computer. See file sharing section for more information. Emory has seen numerous instances of compromised machines through the file sharing programs and has seen the hacker post private files from compromised machines published on the internet.

Your computer may stop working on the Emory network once the security team or network group is notified of the compromised machine since it is our practice to "quarantine" compromised machines by blocking all access to the network. The machine will not be granted network access until it is cleaned, patched, and reviewed. Typically compromised machines require reformatting (wiping all the data and programs from the hard drive) and re-installing your operating system (and any other software programs).

Remember, a malicious hacker can wipe out your important documents and email.

If you use a computer with a network connection, please take the simple steps described below to help secure it against hackers.

Get additional background information on security topics