Online Security Basics

There are some easy things you can do, without purchasing expensive technology or investing a lot of time of reconfiguring your home network, to make your online computing safer.

This list is a good starting places and connects to other areas of our site to get more detailed information about each security measure. 

  1. Keep your systems and software up-to-date.
  2. Always have current/updated anti-virus running. If you are an Ohio State employee and need anti-virus or anti-malware software for your home computer, you can earn them for free for personal use by using the Cybersecurity 4 You security awareness platform and achieving at least Level 3. Visit:
  3. Avoid phishing scams.
  4. Use a complex password or a password manager. 
  5. Be careful what you click. A disreputable website can link you to cybercriminials.
  6. Never leave your computer or devices unattended. Lock any screens when you head to the restroom. Any open system is an open invitation to your data.
  7. Create a pin for your mobile device, and try to never leave it on an airplane.
  8. Protect your data. For instance, the university has an Institutional Data Policy that classifies data according to sensitivity. These same principles apply to stay safe when sharing your personal data online.
  9. For all personal files, back up your data. You never know when you may lose your hard drive, and if the data will be recoverable. There are many cloud storage options, or an external drive is also an option.
  10. When shopping online, or sharing sensitive data, be sure you are sending information encrypted by looking for “https” or a lock icon in your address bar.
  11. Be smart about what you share (and don’t share) on social media.
  12. In the physical world, be careful of social engineering. This can be an attempt by a stranger to pull information from you that you wouldn’t share online. Birthday? Favorite vacation spot? First pet’s name? Do they really need that information? The answers to these questions result in compromised accounts.
  13. Be sure to monitor your financial and social media accounts for suspicious activity.