Choosing good passwords
This is an age-old issue, but it is also of paramount importance. It only takes one weak password to compromise a whole system. The best passwords are ones that are not found in a dictionary.
One good method is to use a phrase of some sort, and base the password on the first letters of the phrase. For example, for Florida, 34 degrees is too cold could be turned into fF,34ditc and it is still easy to remember! Try to include numbers and capital letters. Hyphens, commas, periods and similar characters are good as well, but you must be careful not to select characters that cannot easily be reproduced on different keyboards.
Do not use the following tricks. They are so common that they offer no security.
- (bad) substituting a 1 for a l or i, 2 for to, 3 for e etc.
- (bad) adding a number or symbol to the beginning or end of a word
- (bad) miss-spelling a word in a standard manner, like hiway instead of highway, or using slang words
- (bad) using words from other languages
Keep your operating system up to date
Make sure to regularly check for Windows (or MacOS, Linux, etc.) updates. In newer versions of Windows this can be done easily by running Windows Update from the start menu or Internet Explorer. In some versions it may even be automated.
Credit card numbers on the net
Unless you use encryption, such as a secure form (SSL) on a web browser, everything you send and receive over the network can, in theory, be intercepted.
Remember that it is easy to create a web site that looks convincing, but which in reality only collects credit card numbers for fraudulent purposes. Only enter personal information or credit card numbers on sites which are properly protected and which you trust.
Before forwarding warnings about a virus or worm, or about especially outrageous news you have received via email, please check Snopes to see if it is a hoax.
Spam and Privacy
Spam generally means mass-emails or other forms of electronic junk mail. While using USF's computing resources you are obliged to not send out mass mailings, or harrass people with such mails.
There are a few things worth noting if you wish to protect yourself from spam.
- Spammers often collect email-addresses from Usenet posts. If you're an active Usenet poster, consider getting a filtered account for the email address you post, or consider modifying it in some way that requires human intervention to make the address valid.
- Replying to 'reply to this to be removed from this list' messages is often used only to verify that this is a valid address, and can lead to more junk mail! This usually doesn't apply to reputable corporations, but if you get an add for a new miracle drug or make-money fast scams, you're probably better off not replying to the given address.