Guide How to use desktop or laptop computers securely

This guide provides a checklist of instructions and tips to help ensure the security of your desktop or laptop computers.

Computer security checklist

1. Choose Strong Passwords:

  • Use passwords that can't be easily guessed, and protect your passwords.
  • Don't share your passwords and avoid writing them down.
  • New passwords should not be the same as recent passwords.
  • Characteristics of good, cryptic passwords:
    • Contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
    • Consist of at least 8 characters in length 
    • Are difficult to guess (e.g. don't include real words or personal information like user name, names of family members, places, pets, birthdays, addresses, hobbies, etc.)
    • Are easy to remember (so you don't have to write them down) 

2. Password protect all of your devices, software, and applications with sensitive material:

  • Work computer
  • Personal computer
  • Mobile telephone
  • Tablet or other electronic device

3. Minimize storage of sensitive information:

  • Avoid unnecessary retention of sensitive information, and store information on a secure network drive rather than a workstation or laptop hard drive whenever possible. 
  • Never keep sensitive information or your only copy of critical data, projects, files, etc, on portable mobile devices unless they are properly protected. 

4. Log off / shut down:

  • Log off your computer or put your computer to sleep before leaving it unattended.
  • Make sure your computer requires a secure password to start up or wake up.
  • Set your computer and portable devices to automatically lock when they are not being used.
  • Shut down your desktop computer before leaving the office and turn off your laptop computer at night.

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