Security Tips

If you have not visited our Computer Security page (, please do so as it has many recommendations for having a safe computing experience well beyond the scope of what this article describes. Security is a fact of life, especially with how communication occurs between computers on the Internet. In addition to following the recommendations on JMU's Computer Security page, below are several security tips that may be of use to you:

Outlook Avoid
the OS X
to the


According to the November 22, 2005, issue of PC Magazine, there are a number of ways to secure e-mail in Outlook and Outlook Express. One is to turn off previewing. PC Magazine suggests the following to do this:

  1. In Outlook Express, go to View, then Profiles, then Preview Pane and then turn it off (p. 96).
  2. In Outlook 2000, go to View, then Preview Pane and click to toggle the setting to off (p. 96).
  3. In Outlook 2003, go to View, then Reading Pane and click Off (p. 96).

If patches are up to date, security risks related to previewing are relatively minor. However, turning off previewing is another valid layer of prevention.

Checking headers is another way that PC Magazine (November 22, 2005) suggests for making Outlook e-mail more secure by doing as follows:

"Check the header. If you think that it might be from a legitimate address, right-click on the message line in the Outlook Inbox and select Options to view the header (do not double-click, or you will view the message). In Outlook Express, right-click, select Properties, and choose the Details tab" (p. 96).

PC Magazine adds "Check the To: area for a legitimate e-mail address" (p. 96, emphasis mine).

Information is available for reporting abuse related to headers at

Additional Outlook Security tips are available at and

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Avoid Keyloggers in Windows

A keylogger program is one that "records" what you type at your keyboard. For instance, it can "record" your e-ID and password (even backspaces) as you type and report this information back to a hacker. At JMU, we recommend following the recommendations of R.U.N.S.A.F.E. ( in order to maintain a safe workstation. However, there are times when you are using a machine and you may be unsure of how secure it is. In addition to changing your password on a secure machine after using a questionable machine (if you really must), you can engage in additional steps to avoid keyloggers. PC Magazine (November 22, 2005 issue, p. 104) mentions an ingenious way: The On-Screen Keyboard. This feature is built into Windows XP's Accessibility options. However, a quick way to get to it is to go to Start, then Run, type osk, and click OK. The On-Screen Keyboard appears and the user can "type" with the mouse rather than using the keyboard, which keyloggers target. This definitely is NOT a fix for a keylogger problem, but it is another level of prevention.

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Securing the Mac OS X Login

On many Macintosh machines, one gets to the login screen and simply clicks on the user icon and automatically logs into the machine. Often the initial account created on the Mac is set to have administrative privileges. Thus, anyone who turns on a Mac with such settings can have full access to that Mac.

Rachael Smithey shares how to secure the Mac OS X login at

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Securing the Windows Login

Just as the above occurs with Macs, the same can occur with Windows XP machines, though this is more of an issue for a home configuration than for a JMU-owned machine, since it uses Novell Netware. Therefore, do the following for a machine that does not have Novell Netware on it, such as a home PC:

  1. Click Start and go to Control Panel or Settings, then Control Panel.
  2. Double-click User Accounts.
  3. Select the option Change the way users log on or off.
  4. Uncheck the box for Use the Welcome Screen.
  5. If the options are grayed out, then do nothing:

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Things to do to a new PC before connecting it to the Internet

A brand new PC is not necessarily a patched or up-to-date PC. Once you connect that PC to the Internet, it is open for attack and infection. If there are no defenses (security) set up, then the machine is certainly going to be compromised. What do you do to ensure that your PC is safe before connecting it to the Internet? Follow JMU's recommendations at

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For more information...

For more information, please visit the following:

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