Security Essentials

Protect your data, account, and identity

There are many inherent risks in online computing, but with the appropriate security steps in place a user can greatly reduce their risk of infection, loss of data, and identity theft.


Phishing scams are emails or other messages that appear to come from a known sender, but are actually sent by hackers or other dangerous entities. Phishing emails often ask a user to click on a fraudulent link, or enter personal information such as a password.

Be skeptical when a message asks you to click on a link, especially when you do not know the person. Be even more aware when that link asks you for your password. If a website does ask for your credentials, feel free to contact the Service Desk to determine if the request is valid.


According to CSO Online, 93% of phishing scams are now ransomware. Ransomware encrypts the files on a user’s computer so no one can access them without paying a fee. Once a computer is infected with ransomware, a message is displayed about how you can access files by paying a ransom. Beware, there is no guarantee that paying a ransom will allow you to regain access to your files.

Ensure that your computer is up-to-date with the latest security patches to mitigate your risk.

If you suspect you have fallen victim to ransomware or other phishing scams, or are wondering if a message is legitimate, please contact the Service Desk immediately at (336) 758-4357 or

Viruses, and Spyware

Your computer can be infected by clicking on fraudulent links in emails, downloading an infected file, or even using certain apps and games on social media platforms. WFU-issued Windows computers are automatically scanned for viruses, but Mac users and bring-your-own-device Windows users need to install additional protection. Refer to this page for more information on installing antivirus and anti-spyware protection via Software@WFU.

Google 2-Step Verification

Enabling Google 2-Step is the single-most effective measure towards protecting your WFU Google account.

When you enable 2-Step Verification (also known as two-factor authentication), you add an extra layer of security to your account.

You sign in with something you know (your password) and something you have (a code sent to your phone, printed backup codes, or a security key).

Refer to this page for more information and a video guiding you through enabling Google 2-Step Verification.

Data Backup

Ensuring that your data is backed up is critically important. Anything can happen to your computer at any time – hard drives fail, a laptop can be dropped, broken, or stolen, and data can become corrupted – ransomware can even encrypt your computer so you no longer have access to your files.

The only way to stay protected is to make sure your data resides in multiple places. Refer to our helpful page explaining the various ways you can back up your data. Common methods include using Google Drive and a USB drive. WFU faculty and staff now have access to CrashPlan, an automated cloud service that backs up your data to two different locations on-campus.

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Last modified: May 15, 2017