Cyber security is how staff, students and Queen's University Belfast working together reduce the risk of cyber-attack. Cyber security's core function is to protect the devices we all use (laptops, computer, tablet and smartphones), and the services we access, from malicious attacks. It's also about preventing unauthorised access to the vast amounts of information we work with on a daily basis.
For latest information on cyber security Get Safe Online [External Website]
Protecting Your Microsoft Windows PC
Key steps in protecting your Microsoft Windows PC
- Reboot your PC promptly when requested to apply new updates
- Periodically check that you have an up-to-date version of Symantec EndPoint Protection (SEP) anti-virus software
- If your PC is a laptop please ensure that it is encrypted
- Save your work to OneDrive® or the network Q: drive – avoid keeping data on your device
- Carefully check the source of any application or data you want to download
- Lock your PC when you leave your desk
Protective Monitoring of your PC
Your work PC is managed centrally by a device management application called Kace®. Please do not attempt to disable this application as it is key to protecting your device - Kace® manages your PC regardless of where you work, in the office or at home.
If you have any problems with your PC please contact the IT Service Desk for further advice.
Lock your PC: For Windows devices use Ctrl + Alt + Del and select lock this PC.
- Protecting Your Macintosh Computer
Key steps in protecting your Macintosh computer
- Ensure that your device is configured to automatically download macOS updates; allow the Mac to install them when prompted. See https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201541 for details
- Ensure that you are running a currently supported version of macOS. Apple supports the current release and two previous versions only. Currently only macOS 10.14 and higher are supported. See https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201260 for details. Devices which are not able to run a supported version of macOS must be replaced.
- Ensure that Apple’s GateKeeper is enabled. This prevents unsigned software from running on the Mac. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202491 for details.
- If your device is a MacBook, ensure that FileVault encryption is enabled. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204837 for details.
- Save work to OneDrive or a network drive in preference to storing it locally. Use of iCloud for work purposes is not recommended.
- Lock the device if leaving it unattended (Control-Command-Q, or Apple Menu/Lock Screen).
- Ensure that you have enabled “Require password on wake from sleep”. See https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mac-help/mchlp2270/mac
- Protecting Your iPad
Key steps in protecting your iPad
- Ensure that your device is configured to download the latest iPadOS releases and allow it to install them when prompted. See https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204204 for details.
- Ensure that your device is running the latest iPadOS (currently 14). Devices which are not capable of running the latest iPadOS represent a security threat and must be replaced.
- Ensure that you have set a passcode on the device. Use of biometric security (TouchID/FaceID) is recommended for convenience. Setting a passcode ensures that all data on the device is encrypted. See https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204060 for details.
- Save work to OneDrive rather than storing it locally on the device. Use of iCloud for work purposes is not recommended.
At present there is no central monitoring of Apple devices but certain Schools use tools such as Jamf Pro for management. The University aspires to provide a central service in the medium term. If you have queries please direct them to your local IT support team or the University Service Desk.
- Protecting your computer at home
Protecting your PC at home
- Applying new Windows Updates released by Microsoft
- Applying all application software Updates released by the manufacture
- Keeping up-to-date Anti-Virus Software on your PC
- Using an appropriate Home Firewall Product
- Ensure you have an up to date Operating System
If you do not take these measures then your home PC is potentially a serious risk to yourself and others.
GetSafe Online is a government initiative intended to provide home users with easy-to-understand advice on protecting home computers and phones from malicious attack. For more information visit the GetSafe Online website.
Windows Update: Windows Update is a facility to keep your Windows operating system up to date and help to protect your PC from viruses. Use Automatic Updates to obtain the latest updates as they are released by Microsoft and have them installed at a pre-set time.
Application Software Updates: Not keeping your programs up to date can result in serious issues, affecting both your computer and your own personal security. These include: Viruses, spyware and other malware. Cyber-criminal attacks. Crashing, freezing and generally poor performance.
As well as resolving security issues, software updates frequently contain improvements and new features.
Protecting Home PCs with Anti-Virus Software: All Staff are entitled to a copy of Symantec Anti-Virus (SAV) for home use which is available from the IT Service Desk in the McClay Library. Installation is a simple process and full instructions are supplied. Viruses may be spread by email attachments or by files introduced into the campus. In particular files held on removable media (e.g. USB ) or files downloaded from the internet. As well as protecting your PCs (at work and at home) from viruses you should exercise caution when opening email attachments. This 4-page PDF defines and gives advice to help you respond to phishing attempts.
Important Note: If you use a PC off campus and suspect that the PC has become infected then you should not under any circumstances transfer files between that PC and any University PCs until the virus has been removed.
Firewall for Home Use: Staff and students working from home are strongly advised to protect their PCs using an appropriate home firewall product. These products allow users to determine which Internet traffic reaches their PC. The default Windows firewall is recommended for home users.
Ensure you use an up-to-date Operating System (OS) which is still supported by the manufacturer, an out of date OS will leave your computer vulnerable to many attacks including:
- Stealing your personal and financial details
- Committing identity theft in order to apply for bank accounts, passports and other facilities in your name.
- Monitoring your email and other Internet usage.
- Making your PC part of a botnet, commonly used to attack corporate or government websites.
- Protecting your smartphone
Protecting your smartphone
- Set a passcode on the device. Use of biometric security (TouchID/FaceID) is recommended for convenience
- Ensure that the device is encrypted.
- Ensure that the device has the latest updates.
- If the device is University owned it must have Mobile Device Management (MDM) installed.
- Use OneDrive® to store University data, do not save it on the device.
- Never leave your device unattended.
Use of personal mobile devices for University business is allowed e.g. Email, MS Teams, but it is your responsibility to ensure that the device is properly protected. Failure to comply with these requirements may be a breach of the University’s Computer Resources – Acceptable Use Policy.
For password management please refer to the Self Service Password Reset (SSPR) guidance.
Selecting a strong password and managing it securely
Your password is both your electronic identity and the key, which you use to access University data. It is YOUR responsibility to select a strong password and to manage it securely as you are personally accountable for its use.
Changing your password
There are a couple of things that you'll need to be aware of before changing your password.
A new password will apply to all of our systems (Wi-Fi, Office 365, email, portal, library, QOL etc.) but won’t change the password you use to access QUB email or Wi-Fi on your mobile devices.
You’ll need to make sure you have changed your password on any device that connects to QUB email or Wi-Fi, such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. To do this:
- Enable airplane mode (or turn off WiFi & GPRS) on your mobile device(s);
- Change your password on the SSPR system;
- Change your QUB email password to suit on each device;
- Turn off airplane mode (or turn on WiFi & GPRS) on your mobile device(s) (you will be prompted for your new Wi-Fi password);
You will also need to change your password on any web browser that has remembered a password for a University system
A computer that is left logged on and unattended gives anyone access to information, which is accessible to the authorised user, and allows others to use the account of user for malicious purposes.
Unattended computers must be shut down or locked using a password access 'hot-key' or password-protected screen saver.
A password must be changed immediately if an account owner believes that it has been compromised (for example, if there is a possibility that another person may have viewed or acquired the password).
- Password Procedures
Minimum Standards for all Queen's University Belfast Computer Accounts:
The following requirements are mandatory for creating a strong password. These are the minimum requirements - users are encouraged to create longer and more complex passwords where possible:
- Choose a password that has a mixture of at least 8 upper and lower case letters, numbers and includes a symbol. It should be personally memorable but difficult for others to guess.
- It must be different from previous twenty four passwords used.
Password Best Practices:
- Use at least 1 special character but only from this list. ! % # = + ( ) - $ ? & ^ @ \ ,
- On a UK keyboard, please DO NOT use the £ symbol as this is not acceptable in some applications.
- Immediately change your password if you think that it has been revealed to anyone else or compromised;
- Check that it does not appear in clear text in any file or program;
- Ever write your password down;
- Use the same password for both your University and private computer accounts, such as on-line banking, Facebook etc.;
- Be fooled into giving your password away. You may occasionally receive scam emails that appear to have been sent by IT telling you that your mailbox is full, or that there is a problem with your account etc. the University will NEVER ask you for your password;
- Use your user-name, surname, or given name, as your password in any form;
- Use any information about you that is easily obtainable, such as your car registration number, your birthday, your child or pets name, your favourite holiday destination or your favourite sports team or hobby;
- Use word or number patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, 123321, etc;
- Change your password by simply adding or incrementing a number every time you have to change it;
- Reuse or recycle your password;
- Lend your password to friends or share it with anyone including your secretary or PA;
- Use the 'Remember Password' feature of websites and applications;
- Use an ordinary word preceded or followed by a digit (eg, seCret1, 1seCret)
- Use a password manager application to store your QUB password - we do not recommend any such applications
Use one of the following methods to create a memorable but strong password:
- Use the first letter of each word in a memorable phrase, saying, nursery rhyme or song title. For example, the phrase might be: "this may be one way to remember" and the password could be: "Tmb1w2r";
- Substitute one or more letters with a numeric character (eg I = 1, A = 4, S = 5, L = 7 or O = 0);
- Take two words and splice them together with one or more numeric characters;
- For the strongest password, use a ‘passphrase’ – a number of words as in the example above and include the spaces between them as part of the password.
- What to do if you've forgotten your password
These Policies apply to all members of staff, visitors, contractors and students of the University and must be read before computer resources are used.
Information Services is implementing Microsoft Defender for Office 365 which will add some additional features to protect users from malware, phishing and spam emails.
- Roll the mouse over a link to see its destination, in a browser this will be displayed in the bottom left corner and in Outlook it is displayed above the link.
- Be suspicious of unknown sources or even links from trusted sources - if in doubt, seek advice or delete it.
- Always think twice before clicking a link.
- Report security incidents or scam emails asking for your credentials to IT immediately.
- Never leave your phone, tablet, or laptop unattended.
Last Updated: November 2020