Help Desk
MSU-Northern students, faculty and staff - Use the ITS Help Desk as the first point of contact for your technology problems, questions & services!

Information Technology Services Help Desk
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   8am-5pm Mon-Fri
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   Cowan Hall 117B Telephone Support:
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Last Updated: 18-Jun-2009
Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services: Stay Updated!

Defects ("bugs") are frequently found in almost all computer software. Some of these defects are merely a nuisance, but some of them can result in our computers being compromised from a remote location. This gives third parties the ability to run their code on our computers without our permission for their own purposes. With hundreds of millions of us connected together via the Internet around the world, it presents a lot of opportunity for mischief...or worse.

Using out-of-date, unpatched, software products can potentially open the door to exploits that can be used to install malware on your system. It is important that you keep your system and all of your software up-to-date.

The little amount of time you spend keeping your system updated will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the future.

Update, Update, Update!

Keep your operating system updated. And yes, this does include Macs. Use the automatic update feature. Even if you don’t want it to automatically update your system, have it download & notify you the updates are available, then install the updates at your earliest convenience. But don’t wait too long, when malware writers find out about a flaw are very quick to exploit it.  Updating Windows & Macs

Keep your browser(s) updated. If you use Internet Explorer, this is done when the rest of the Windows operating system is updated. If you use Firefox, make sure it is set to automatically check for updates: Go to Tools -> Options -> Advanced, click on the Update tab and check the settings.

Install and keep updated: firewall, antivirus and antispyware software. And home users, when it’s time, RENEW your subscriptions!

  • Consider a ‘suite’ of software – a suite is comprised of individual application programs that are sold together as a group often sharing a more-or-less common user interface. They also often have features that stand alone programs don't plus some can be used on up to 3 computers. But keep in mind you should have at least 1Gb of memory otherwise you'll get slow performance.
  • Windows XP & Vista have a built in firewall – use it!
  • Free software generally doesn't perform as well as pay-for programs, but they are worth considering as supplementary protection. Use pay-for programs for real time protection and the freeware periodically to check for stuff the other software may have missed. Note: Use caution downloading freeware. For instance some so-called anti-spyware is actually spyware.
  • Get a spam filter only if you’re using your ISP filter and you're still getting too much spam.

Keep ALL your applications updated – this includes Office programs and all the add on programs you've downloaded like iTunes, Quicktime, Acrobat Reader, Java, etc. These have all at one point or another been found to have vulnerabilities.

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It's up to you.
Take these steps to help ensure the security of your identity and your computer.

Security Updates
Antivirus Software
Secure Passwords
Malware Protection
Phishing Tips
Social Networking
Scan suspicious attachments
Virustotal offers a free service for scanning suspicious files using several antivirus engines.
(But keep in mind that this is NOT a substitute for having antivirus software installed on your computer!)
Report Security Incidents
Report stolen devices (laptops, PDAs, etc) and suspected computer break-ins to ITS immediately. The sooner we know about an incident, the sooner we can respond, potentially limiting any damage.
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