Cyber Security Tips

Creating a Strong and Memorable Password:
Columbia College Password Policy: Columbia College has a single sign on process for email, Web Advisor, Datatel, and network access. Under this policy, faculty and staff will be required to change their passwords every 90 days. For more details, view the Columbia College Password Policy.

Remember, your password is worth as much as what it protects!

As a general rule of thumb, the more random and longer a password is, the more secure it is. Strong passwords are created using all of the following tips:

  • Make it lengthy: Ideally, passwords should be at least 14 characters long. Every additional character in a password provides more security.
  • Consider using a Pass-Phrase: It may be hard to find a passwords that is 14 characters long. Instead, try a mantra, a quote, or a sentence. 
  • Substitute: Use numbers instead of characters or vice versa
  • Add complexity: Include a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers
  • Weak, easy-to-guess passwords, such as
    • Your username
    • First/Last name
  • Using the same password for every online application
  • Passwords with less than six characters
  • Repetitive passwords such as pass11, pass22, pass33

Prevent Cyber Bullying:
Cyber bullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyber bullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Below are tips from to prevent cyber bullying.

Be aware of what your kids are doing online: 

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they're going, what they're doing, and who they're doing it with.
  • Ask to friend or follow your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyber bullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.
Establish rules about technology use:
  • Establish rules about the appropriate use of computers, cell phones, and other technology. Be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they're online. Show them how to be safe online.
  • Help them to be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. 
  • Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Ask them how they think people who are not their friends could use this information. 
  • Tell kids to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities.
Understand school rules:
  • Some schools have developed policies on uses of technology that may affect the child's online behavior in and out of the classroom. Ask the school if they have developed a policy. 

Protect yourself from Malware:
Malware, short for malicious software, includes viruses and spyware which may steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Criminals create appealing websites, desirable downloads, and compelling stories to lure you to links that will download malware--especially on computers that don't use adequate security software. But you can minimize the havoc that malware can wreak and reclaim your computer and electronic information.

Computers may have malware if they:

  • Slow down, malfunction, or display repeated error messages
  • Won't shut down or restart
  • Serve up a lot of pop-up adds
If you suspect malware on your computer
  • Stop shopping, banking, and other online activities that involve usernames, passwords, or any other sensitive or personal information.
  • Confirm that your security software is active and current. At a minimum, your computer should have antivirus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall.
  • Once your security software is up-to-date, run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware, deleting anything the program identifies as a problem.
  • If you suspect your computer is still infected, you may want to run a second anti-virus or anti-spyware program, or call in professional help. 
  • Once your computer is back up and running, think about how the malware could have been downloaded on your machine, and what you could do to avoid it in the future.