Computer Security Recommendations
This page is intended to provide you with some basic steps you can take to increase the security of your laptop.
No single product can provide total security; different tools stop different threats. If you implement the suggestions below to add multiple layers of security, your machine will be harder to compromise.
Keep Your Operating System Up-to-Date
Updating your operating system (and your applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader) plugs security holes that hackers are constantly seeking. Check for Windows or macOS updates at least once a week to keep your computer up-to-date with security and other bug patches. Do a check as "close to immediately" as possible after connecting to the Internet. Both Windows Update and Apple's Software update are turned on by default.
Are you receiving automatic updates?
- Windows: Click the Start button on your machine and type Windows Update. Press Enter.
Please note that if you are offered new versions of your operating system, be careful not to upgrade to a version that has yet to be supported by the Law School.
Visit Laptop Support Policy
Backups are Critical
Part of good security is keeping backups of your important files; multiple backups on flash drives, cloud storage, etc. Backups are inexpensive. Data recovery, on the other hand, is very expensive, and sometimes not possible. Make backups often and check the backups to make sure that they are reliable.
Security Tips for Windows
Law IT strongly recommends that you have some kind of antivirus program on your computer that is up-to-date. For PCs, the University recommends Windows Defender. Defender is installed by default on supported versions of Windows.
Make sure your computer has a firewall program enabled.
Keep other programs up to date. Many malware attacks prey on computers with outdated versions of popular programs such as Adobe Reader. To better protect yourself against these threats, update your programs when you are prompted to do so.
Security Tips for Mac
The University recommends that you have some kind of antivirus program on your computer. Here is one listing of the best free antivirus programs for macOS.
Make sure that if you have an antivirus program already installed you remove it and restart your computer before installing any new antivirus program.
Make sure your computer has a Firewall enabled. To check in macOS 13:
- Click the Apple Menu | System Settings...
- Click Network | Firewall .
- If the Firewall is Off, turn it on.
Change Safari to not open "safe" files after downloading. One known malware attack takes advantage of this default setting. To change it:
- Open Safari.
- Click the Safari menu in the top toolbar and choose Preferences....
- Under the General tab, uncheck Open "safe" files after downloading.
New Operating Systems
Please note that upgrading to new macOS operating systems (for example macOS 13 Ventura to macOS 14 Sonoma) could jeopardize your ability to print to Law School printers or take Electronic Bluebook exams. Please see our relevant pages for compatibility information first to make sure the operating system to which you wish to upgrade is fully supported.
Staff and faculty are permitted to use their properly managed and secured, personally owned devices to access sensitive University data when necessary in the course of their work.
Protect Your Personal Data
Identity theft happens daily, and serious data breaches are frequently highlighted in the news. No one is invulnerable to data loss but you can take steps to reduce your risk.
- Do not give out your Social Security number to people or companies you do not know. Know why that information is required in any given situation. Never carry your social Security card with you.
- Shred information you no longer need that contains personally identifiable information.
- Use strong passwords for your online accounts and use different passwords for each account.
- Get a free copy of your credit report. Review the credit providers on the report to be sure credit has not been requested without your knowledge.
Get Annual Credit Report
- Never give personal information over the phone or on the Internet unless you are sure of who is asking for it.
- Protect your computer with a firewall and regularly update antivirus software and your operating system.
If you believe your UMICH password has been compromised, you should change your UMICH password immediately and contact the ITS Service Center to let them know your account may have been affected.
Personal Data Loss
Should you experience a loss of personal data there are a number of actions you can take to minimize your loss.
- First and foremost, remain calm. While this can be stressful, a calm demeanor will help you to navigate the steps successfully.
- Remember to document your actions carefully. Keep copies of all the reports you file, and written notes of any phone conversations, including the names of the people with whom you speak.
- If your Social Security number is lost in a hack you may want to contact the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to guard against an identity thief who tries to file a change of address to get official documents sent to a new address (like your tax refund, for example), or to try and obtain employment in your name. See the link below for contact information.
- The following U.S. government site has thorough instructions, printable checklists, sample letters, a section on your rights in such a situation, and links to necessary reporting agencies. Take time to read this carefully and apply the recommended steps relevant to your situation.
Visit FTC Identity Theft Site
- For people in the Ann Arbor area, contact the Ann Arbor police department.
Visit Ann Arbor Police Site
- If you have any other questions or concerns, students, faculty, and staff can contact Law.IT@umich.edu.
The IRS has a number of guides which might be useful to help you keep your identity and tax returns safe. Taking a few minutes to look over the material may save considerable recovery effort later.