Security Awareness Tutorial

Terms to Know


Software application in which advertising banners or 'pop ups' are displayed on your computer screen while the program is running.


Software that is designed to protect your computer from malicious spyware that monitors your online activities and collects personal information while you surf the web. This should be updated daily.


Anti-virus software protects your computer from viruses and should be updated daily.


A firewall is like a guard, watching for outside attempts to access your system and blocking communications from and to sources you don't permit in order to protect your personal information.

Hacker, attacker, or intruder

These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain.

Malicious code

This is code meant to do harm to your computer. This category includes code such as viruses, worms, and trojan horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics.


(Pronounced 'fishing') is a highly prevalent online scheme used by Internet cyber-criminals to 'lure' you into providing your personal and financial information online through e-mail and/or pop-ups.


Sometimes companies or individuals purchase e-mail address lists to send ads for products and services. The unsolicited e-mail is defined as "Spam". They fill your e-mail boxes up with junk e-mails.

Trojan horses

Software that claims to be one thing while in fact doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending confidential information to a remote intruder.


This type of malicious code requires you to actually do something before it infects your computer. This action could be opening an e-mail attachment or going to a particular web page. Once you take the action then the virus begins doing what it is programmed to do, like delete all of your files or make your machine reboot constantly.


Worms propagate without user intervention. They typically start by exploiting a software vulnerability (a flaw that allows the software's intended security policy to be violated), then once the victim's computer has been infected the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers. Similar to viruses, worms can propagate via e-mail, websites, or network-based software. The automated self-propagation of worms distinguishes them from viruses.

Cyber Security Practices

  • If you are asked for personal information learn how it is going to be used and be sure that the site is secure.
  • Do not open unsolicited e-mail, especially attachments. NOTE: If you do not know the sender - do not open the e-mail.
  • Read website privacy policies.
  • Do not send personal information through e-mails especially on ListServs that go out to a large number of people.
  • Do not place important information on hardware devices like flash drives, disks or hard drives that can be lost or stolen.
  • Use Anti-Virus software, a Firewall and Anti-Spyware software.
  • On your home computer update your operating system and Web browser regularly. Download Patches when available. The Gordon Information Technology Department will do this for you on your work computer.
  • Use complex passwords (see Complex Passwords below).

Possible Symptoms of a Compromised Computer

  • Slow or non-responsive? Experiencing unexpected behavior?
  • Running programs that you weren't expecting?
  • Showing signs of high level of activity to the hard drive that is not the result of anything you initiated?
  • Displaying messages on your screen that you haven't seen before?
  • Running out of disk space unexpectedly?
  • Unable to run a program because you don't have enough memory - and this hasn't happened before?
  • Program constantly crashing?
  • Rejecting a valid and correctly entered password?
  • All e-mail sent from computer is refused (bounced back)?

Security Measures at Gordon

  • Updated Anti-Virus software runs on all Gordon computers.
  • Updated Anti-Spyware software runs on all Gordon computers.
  • Operating Systems updated via patches / service packs on all Gordon computers after passing compatibility testing performed by Information Technology.
  • We provide Firewall Protection.
  • We perform daily backup of Servers and media is stored off campus in a secure place.
  • We require login authentication on all Gordon computers even through wireless access.
  • We require passwords to expire every 122 days and the use of complex passwords.
  • Security access roles are given to all user accounts.
  • Passwords can be changed securely over the web. Read the instructions and watch our instructional video on how to reset your password online at
  • We require faculty to go to the administrative assistant in their division and request a password change.

Complex Passwords

  • Passwords should be changed on a regular basis.
  • Passwords should be complex.
  • Passwords should be at least ten (10) characters long.
  • Passwords should NOT contain all or part of the users account name
  • Passwords MUST contain at least three of the four following categories of characters:
    • Uppercase characters
    • Lowercase characters
    • Base 10 digits
    • Symbols found on the keyboard (such as !, @, #)
  • Do not use your name, birth date, social security number, mothers name, dogs name or any other information that someone may know about you.
  • Do not write down your password. Choose a password you can remember.
  • If you think someone has obtained your password, reset your password.

Other Important Information

  • Lock your computer when you leave your office. You can lock your computer by pressing the Windows Key and "L". To unlock your computer when you return, press CTL+ALT+DELETE and re-enter your password.
  • Always Reboot your computer before calling Information Technology with a problem. Turn it completely off and back on.
  • Do not give your password to anyone.
  • If you must write your password down, put it in a secure place. Do not write in on a sticky note and place it on your monitor.