Protect identity while online

The recent announcement that a hacker had compromised the personal e-mail account of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a reminder of what can happen if people are not careful with accounts and passwords.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and Washington University is working to raise awareness of both work and home security practices to help prevent exposure of information and identity theft.

Throughout the month, the Information and Network Security Offices will be sending out e-mails, giving awareness presentations, handing out brochures and bookmarks and placing awareness posters throughout WUSTL campuses.

Below are 10 tips to help students, faculty and staff protect their identity while using the Internet.

1. Keep passwords to online accounts private and difficult to guess.

2. Choose very difficult to guess answers for security challenge questions.

3. Universities, banks and businesses will never ask for personal information via e-mail. Don’t provide it if asked, and report the e-mail to the institution.

4. Do not open attachments or click on links in unsolicited e-mails.

5. Use a separate credit card or a one-time temporary credit card number for online purchases.

6. Turn on your computer’s Firewall.

7. Keep your computer and software up to date.

8. Run up-to-date antivirus software.

9. Ask for a free, annual review of your credit history at

10. Visit Web sites such as and to learn more about how to protect personal information online.

For more information, contact Brian Allen at or the School of Medicine Information Security Team at