Security and Privacy Concerns
Whether working from home or on campus, it is important to safeguard and protect Penn data. Listed below are tips and strategies to ensure that your computer and your work habits will keep your data safe.
Check Penn's Privacy and Information Security web sites for additional information and resources.
Run the current version of anti virus software and set it up for regular, automatic updates
Anti virus software is freely available for download to members of the Penn Community through the supported products web page. Install it and keep virus definitions up-to-date.
Turn on the firewall that is built into your computer’s operating system
The built-in personal firewall helps to protect your computer from some network attacks. The firewall provides an added level of protection against malicious activity by examining and restricting network traffic to your computer.
Make sure all software is up to date, with security patches
Though operating systems and other software are designed to be secure, sometimes they still contain vulnerabilities. If you don't keep your computer’s software up-to-date, then you run a high risk of having your computer compromised or hacked. Hackers may be interested in your personal data, or in using your computer for attacks on other computers. Configure your operating system to update automatically (Windows and Mac OS X) and check regularly with software vendors for other product updates.
Use strong passwords
You may not realize it, but the number one reason computers get hacked is weak passwords. To protect against hackers, who use automated password-cracking dictionaries to gain access to online accounts and individual PCs, be sure to use strong, hard-to-guess passwords. Read Penn’s password guide for tips in creating a strong password.
Protect University data
Best practice when working from home is to use a computer that is solely dedicated to your work and not available to the rest of your family to use. If that just isn't possible, use remote desktop, or as a last resort make sure to create a separate account and data storage area which will be reserved for your work and not accessible to others sharing the computer. This separation will help to ensure that family members do not have access to data they shouldn't and will also prevent accidental file deletion. See information from Microsoft and Apple for help creating user accounts in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X.
Safeguard against physical theft
If part of your work from home strategy is to carry a laptop or other materials back and forth, please keep your belongings in sight and never leave your laptop unattended—this includes visible on the seat of your vehicle. You also may want to consider purchasing Computrace software, which installs a tracking device on your laptop which can be activated in the case of loss or theft. Finally, if your laptop contains sensitive data, please make sure to encrypt your hard drive. Work with your LSP for guidance about implementing encryption.
Back up data regularly
While your data at work may be backed up regularly “in the background” or overnight, without you needing to take any action, it is really critical to have a back up strategy for work that you complete while away from the office. Strategies may be as simple as saving individual files to a USB drive or CD, or you may want to automate the process by making use of the backup features built into modern operating systems coupled with an external hard drive.
Properly configure your home wireless router
Many wireless routers seem to work very easily just by plugging them in. However it is important to take the extra steps to properly secure your home network. For more information on how to secure your home network consult the documentation that came with your router or contact your ISP. Common precautions include changing the name of the wireless access point, turning off broadcast of the name so that others in the neighborhood can’t see the device and connect, and turning on encryption.