OIT Publishes Annual Holiday Computer Security Tips

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Securing computers during Winter Break

Winter break (as well as other semester breaks) are a time when we vacate campus offices and residence halls, leaving thousands of desktop computers unattended. Please take appropriate measures to keep your computer, your files, and our network safe.

Here you will find some security tips from OIT's Information Security team and the ResNet Office. In addition, the IT support staff for your department, office, or residence may provide security-related services, such as software installation or security patch updates. If so, please follow the security guidelines from your local IT support staff.

For everyone—

  1. If you own a laptop, please be mindful of where it is at all times. Do not walk away and leave it unattended in a public place. This includes leaving it in a locked automobile. Laptops are a thief's prime targets this time of year.
  2. Unless instructed otherwise by your unit's technical staff, please turn off your GT-provided computer during the break. Personal computers should be taken home during the break.
  3. If you choose to leave your GT-provided computer ON, please make sure that your office/work area is physically locked, all accounts are logged off, and any peripherals (monitors, printers, scanners) are turned off.
  4. If your machine must remain on and you cannot log out of your machine before leaving, make sure that you either enable a screensaver with password protection or LOCK your computer when you leave. Windows users can select a password-protected screensaver from Start > Control Panel > Display > Screensaver. Windows users can LOCK their computers by pressing the Windows Key + L. Apple users should simply log out or set up a password protected screensaver and activate it.
  5. Check with your CSR (technical lead) to make sure that your computer receives security updates and has the necessary security software installed (i.e. antivirus). On personal computers, make sure that you have the GT-provided antivirus software suite (McAfee) installed. If you do not, you can download for free from the OIT software distribution site:
  6. For additional protection, you can optionally back up your workstation or server and verify your ability to restore backups prior to leaving campus. This will be valuable in case of any type of system malfunction or failure that may occur during your time away.
  7. Identity theft is highest this time of year. Many of these frauds will be perpetrated by email.  Do not disclose any person or sensitive information over email. As a matter of fact, we highly recommend to not store (or at lease limit) personal information on laptops. 
  8. Many passwords are due to expire during the break. Be sure to change your password before it expires so you do not have any service interruption. If you forget your password you can reset it yourself by having security hints defined in PassPort. To set up questions or reset your password, go to

For students who reside on campus—

  • Turn off and unplug any electronics that will not be used during the semester break. Some items to remember include your computer, monitor, printer, and other peripherals. Also be sure to turn off any alarm clocks so as not to disturb residents that remain on campus during the break.
  • Check your Georgia Tech email via webmail ( before returning to campus. Pay close attention to email you may receive from OIT Communications or ResNet during the break. Important security precautions and procedures will be relayed to residents via email.



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  • Created By:
    Michael Hagearty
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  • Modified By:
    Fletcher Moore
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