Information Technology Services

Secure Computing

Connecting your computer to a network or the Internet increases the risk of exposing your system to viruses and unauthorized access by others.

The combined use of antivirus software, spyware removal utilities and personal firewalls, along with keeping up to date with updates, patches and service packs, can help protect your computer from viruses and other vulnerabilities.

Antivirus/Malware

St. Cloud State recommends using Microsoft Security Essentials and Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition software to help faculty, staff and currently enrolled students protect their home computers. This antivirus software is available at no extra cost to you.

Windows Defender is recommended for Windows 8 & 10 and is built in to the operating system.

Be sure to update your virus definitions or schedule them to update automatically to ensure protection.

Internet Guardian

More information regarding Internet Guardian, including FAQs, is available on the Minnesota State SharePoint site.

Login instructions:
Faculty: starid@minnstate.edu
Students: starid@go.minnstate.edu

Internet Guardian is a security service implemented system-wide for all Minnesota State institutions. This service will help protect the St. Cloud State campus community from various internet threats, including phishing attempts and accidental downloads of malicious software like malware.

The service will mostly be invisible to the campus community except for those times that a user clicks on a malicious link or visits a web page identified as containing malicious software. If this happens, you will be alerted by a browser screen that informs you why your access to a site was blocked.

If you feel the site was blocked in error, the system will allow you to report the issue to the MinnState Help Desk. If you you have a legitimate need to access a blocked site, please contact Phil Thorson, Deputy CIO, and we will work with the Minnesota State System Office to provide solutions that can reach these “bad” destinations without endangering the rest of the campus network.

The service will not protect against all security threats so we are asking users to forward all suspected phishing emails to phishing@stcloudstate.edu and continue to practice safe computing habits.

Email threats

Phishing

Phishing is online criminal activity involving fraudulent e-mail messages sent in an attempt to obtain your online account information such as credit card and banking information. Once phishers have your account information, they might use it to steal your identity or make purchases on your account.

Phishing attempts will often:

  • impersonate bank, credit card or online payment services using authentic-looking logos
  • request personal information or ask for verification or confirmation of information
  • include a sense of urgency or threats
  • have poor grammar and/or spelling mistakes
  • include hyperlinks that have text labeling them as one thing, but by hovering over the link, the actual url will be different.

Hoaxes and Scams

Hoaxes and scams usually arrive by e-mail in the form of spam or bogus virus or vulnerability warnings, promotions or rewards that sound too good to be true

A lot of hoaxes and scams include:

  • “If you receive an e-mail titled [virus hoax name], do not open it! Delete it immediately!”
  • “This virus was announced today by” (reputable organization name specified here, such as Microsoft or IBM)
  • “Forward this warning to everyone you know!”
  • multiple > > > > > signs in front of each line
  • e-mail chain letters offering you money for passing on the message

Your best option is to simply delete the e-mail. If something looks odd or doesn't seem quite right, it probably isn't.

Questions about these and any other email threats should be sent to phishing@stcloudstate.edu.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing

Programs like Kazaa, Ares, iMesh and Limewire (Free and Pro versions) are popular ways to share music and movie files across the Internet, but they pose legal and security risks that can result in serious trouble for you — even court cases and fines. Representatives of copyright holders, such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), have filed cases against college students who have illegally downloaded and shared music and movies, and we don’t want that to happen to anyone at St. Cloud State.

Risks of P2P file sharing

Copyright Infringement

This is a serious legal violation. Most music and movies are protected under federal copyright law and cannot be freely shared.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law intended to address digital copyright issues, has very specific procedures within it that Minnesota State and St. Cloud State University must follow when notified that someone using our network is allegedly violating copyright law. 

Malicious Software

Many P2P applications install adware and/or spyware on your computer. These programs can cause annoying pop-up advertisements and collect information about you and your computing habits. In addition, these programs often interfere with your computer’s operation and can make tasks such as browsing the Web frustrating.  

P2P networks are also commonly used to spread viruses. While you may think you are downloading the latest single by your favorite group, you are actually downloading a virus which will infect your computer and spread to other computers on our network and the Internet.

Although a good anti-virus and anti-spyware program might help, viruses and spyware can be very difficult to completely remove once they get installed. The best way to avoid viruses and spyware is to not engage in activities (such as P2P file sharing) which put your computer at risk.

Resources

Reporting Abuse

Technology abuse refers to general abuse of St. Cloud State University’s computing resources. Examples of abuse include physical damage to computers and equipment or using St. Cloud State resources in a way that violates law or policy, such as harassing someone online or spamming from an St. Cloud State email account.

To report abuse of resources and any forms of harassment involving St. Cloud State email or technology services, please contact the IT Security Office at itsecurity@stcloudstate.edu or (320) 308-3091.