Put your information under lock and key

31 May 2010

In the same way that you protect your possessions, your identity and your personal information, you also need to protect the information that you work with every day. ICTS's Steff Hughes says that the following hints and tips will help you to prevent the theft of information.

Be aware of phishing attempts

The greatest danger posed by phishing attempts is that they look so legitimate. Fraudsters pretend to represent a company, such as a bank, by using the bank's own logo and branding. The email looks so convincing that many people willingly hand over their information. If you receive a 'phishy' email, just ignore it or delete it. It is important to remember that no company will ask you to provide them with your bank account number and PIN, or your network username and password - especially not via an email, webpage or a phone call.

Create strong passwords

Don't be the weakest link! The most secure protection for your information is to create strong passwords that are not written down and cannot be guessed. Don't use words or dates that are linked to your name, birth date, physical address or age. Strong passwords include a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks, e.g. :()~!?<>*^_ . At UCT your password must be at least six characters in length and must be changed every 90 days - or sooner, if you suspect that it has been compromised. A great way to manage your password is by activating your profile on Password Self-Service, which allows you to reset your password yourself whenever you need to.

When you change your network password, remember that you will need to update all saved versions of your password as well. This includes your ISA password (for Internet browsing), your GroupWise Caching password and your Windows Workstation password. As soon as you access any one of these services after having changed your network password, you will be prompted to enter the new password.

Lock your Workstation

If you sit in an open plan office, you may want to make sure that no-one can access your information when you're away from your desk. Before you leave your desk, lock your workstation by pressing CTRL + ALT + Delete simultaneously, then select "Lock Workstation". When you return to your desk, just type in your network password and continue working.

For more hints and tips, read our Managing your Password article on the ICTS website. (www.icts.uct.ac.za | Identity and Access Management | Passwords | Managing your Password).

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