Being Safe Online

The internet is, inevitably, an integral part of working and studying at the University of Adelaide. By protecting yourself online, you are contributing to the secure computing environment at the University.

Smart phones, tablets and personal computers are used on a daily basis at the University. Because these devices often contain information which is vital to the University’s teaching, learning and research initiatives, it is important they are kept secure.

The internet is a great place to access and share information with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, the internet is also used by criminals to commit fraud and cause harm. To protect yourself, your computer or smart device, and the University from harm, it is important to be aware of the following SecureIT advice.

  • Turn off browsing features you aren't using

    Internet browsers often come with features to enhance your web experience. These features, however, can be exploited by hackers to steal your personal information. The more browser options and functions you turn off, the safer your internet access will be.

    Making the most of your internet access is a balance between being as secure as possible and experiencing every feature the Internet has to offer.

    If you do not use a University-managed computer, some steps you can take to increase your browser’s security are:

    • Update or disable Java
    • Use alternative PDF software instead of Adobe Reader, such as Foxit Reader
    • If you use Adobe Flash, update it regularly
  • Make sure you're at your intended destination

    Your browser’s address bar can help you identify a fraudulent website. Hackers will often build fake websites, known as "phishing" sites, to solicit personal information such as your password or banking details. Phishing sites will masquerade as a legitimate business (such as the University) so they appear more convincing.

    All webpages belonging to the University of Adelaide will have a domain name ending in

    Example of a phishing webpage:

  • Download content only from websites you trust

    The internet is a great place for accessing resources that benefit the University’s learning and teaching environment. Websites may not always be what they seem, however. Hackers will sometimes hijack a legitimate website in order to distribute their malicious software to unsuspecting visitors. This software can hide itself on your computer and steal your passwords and financial information.

    Some steps you can take to avoid downloading viruses and other malicious software are:

    • Run a virus scan on every item you download
    • Avoid opening files from untrusted authors
    • Avoid visiting sites that have been flagged as malicious
  • Stop and think before you enter your password into a website

    Tip: Bookmark University webpages that require you to enter your username and password. Visit these pages only via your bookmarks and avoid clicking on email links to get there.

    Your University password is your online key into the University. Just like your house key, it should be carefully guarded.

    Hackers will often try to trick staff and students into giving up their password by pretending to be the University. Always stop and think before you enter your password online.

    Some questions you can ask before entering your password are:

    Example of a webpage with the correct domain name and a secure connection: 

Social media websites are a fun and interactive way of keeping up-to-date with current events as well as keeping in touch with friends and family. Due to the popularity of services such as Facebook and Twitter, social media sites have become a target for scammers and other threatening people.

Below is some SecureIT advice that will help you to increase your security while using social media.

Portable devices such as smart phones and tablets have become an important part of working and studying at the University. Because these devices store information such as contacts, emails and documents it’s important that they are looked after.

Below is some SecureIT advice for keeping your smart device secure.

University-managed computers offer a range of security features which protect staff and students from various online threats. Many of us, however, work from our own personal computer that we bring from home.

Below is some SecureIT advice for increasing the security of your personal computer.

  • Install security software and update it regularly

    Security software such as antivirus, anti-spyware or personal firewall will help protect your computer from viruses, spyware and hackers. You can choose to either install these products separately, or use an all-in-one suite that bundles them together.

  • Turn on automatic updates to protect your computer from hackers

    Software companies regularly issue free updates to fix security problems in their software. These fixes are called patches and should be applied regularly to prevent hackers from gaining access to your computer.

    Most operating systems and application software can be configured to update automatically. Check your program settings for a ‘check for updates’ option.

    Microsoft is no longer providing support or patches for Windows 7. This can leave your computer vulnerable to hackers as security problems are no longer being fixed. If you are using Windows 7, we strongly recommend that you upgrade your personal computer to Windows 10.

  • Lock your screen when you are not using your computer

    Your personal computer is an essential tool for working and studying at the University. Because it contains important files including emails, passwords and other sensitive information you should protect your computer at all times.

    Here are some simple steps you can take to safeguard your personal computer:

    • Immediately lock your screen when you walk away from your computer
    • Set your screen saver to automatically lock after 10 minutes of inactivity
    • Never leave your computer unattended in public areas
  • Set a strong password and change it from time to time

    Passwords aren’t unbreakable but they can prevent strangers from casually accessing your computer.

    Here are some steps you can take to set and protect your password:

    • Choose a strong password
    • Your computer’s password should be 100% unique and unlike any other password you use
    • Never reuse old passwords
    • Change your password at least once a year

    Learn more about password security.