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Risky Business


Tips and tricks for securing information


Check your Computer is Up-To-Date

By Daniela Cooper, on 15 May 2020

Now is a good time to check that your computer is up-to-date, even when using auto updates it is still a good idea to regularly check that these updates are being installed and everything is working as it should. Whether it is a UCL owned computer or your own personal computer, it is really important to make sure that it is up-to-date to minimise the risk of your computer being compromised.

Anti-Virus Software

If it has been a while since you installed your anti-virus software, check the UCL Software Database to see if there is a newer version. Your anti-virus is likely to still be working however the newer version will have newer features and may be able to detect more than the older version. VPNs that use posture checking will often only work with the latest versions of anti-virus even if the anti-virus is working and still receiving regular updates. Don’t forget to make sure that your anti-virus software is set up to regularly scan your computer.

Operating System Updates

It’s important that your operating system is receiving (and installing) updates as these will include security updates. It really is worth checking regularly that your operating system is up-to-date, your computer will have a dedicated update manager although how this is done will vary depending on which operating system you are using.

Application Updates

Like operating system updates it’s important to make sure that your installed applications and software are receiving (and installing) updates too. Out of date browsers are often the reason for some malware infections and compromises so make sure you update any browsers (and plugins) you have installed. Next up is your email client and any office like software you have installed. Lastly, absolutely any other application you have installed. If there are any applications that you have installed but you do not use, consider uninstalling them.

General Tips

Some general tips on keeping yourself and your computer safe:


There are lots of scams around at the moment related to the Coronavirus so it’s important to be especially vigilant right now.

When reading your email, look out for the following:

•        A sense of:
o        Urgency – makes you feel like you have to do something quickly, so you don’t take the time to wonder if the email is suspicious.
o        Fear – for example, if you don’t click on the link, your account will be deleted, or you will be fined.
o        Promise of reward – lottery win notifications, or “I am the widow of a rich person” type of email.
o        Guilt or sympathy – “I am dying of…” type of email.
•        ‘To’ and ‘From’ address – these can be trivially forged and show false information. Often the ‘To’ address isn’t even your email address; a legitimate email would be addressed to your actual email address.
•        Web link – check to see if the link is in the UCL domain (ucl.ac.uk), it could look like a legitimate UCL URL but check by hovering over it as it could be going somewhere else entirely. If you are unsure about the URL, check with the sender.
•        Asking you to respond with your username and/or password – no legitimate email will ask you to do this.
•        Unexpected attachment – some phishing emails come with attachments that when opened will compromise your computer.
•        Headers and signatures – these can be forged; phishing emails often use them to appear more legitimate.

Avoiding Malware

  • Keep your browser and plugins up-to-date (particularly Java and Flash)
  • Do not open attachments that you are not expecting
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is working and up-to-date
  • Ensure your firewall is turned on
  • Be careful browsing non-reputable websites


In the event that something bad does happen, you would be really grateful for back-ups! If you can, use central ISD services as these are backed up for you.

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