Best Practice

Browser Configuration

Browser Configuration

One of the easiest “technologies” to keep your information and computer safe is properly configuring the security settings on your web browser.  Most people leave the settings at default because it’s convenient, but not taking those extra couple minutes now can mean many costly hours (or weeks) later if your information gets compromised.

Below are some setting suggestions and how to complete them on the most common browsers.  Settings may vary based on browser version, and we recommend always updating your browser to the most current version to ensure the most recent patches and security features are applied.

  1. Limit Cookie Storage
  2. Don’t Store Passwords or Allow Sites to Remember Your Form Entries
  3. Disable Pop-ups
  4. Limit Plug-ins and Add-ons
  5. Enable Automatic Site Checking
  6. Prompt for Downloads
  7. Clear Browsing Data/Temporary Internet Files

1. Limit Cookie Storage

Cookies are data files a webpage puts on your computer that tracks information about you.  Cookies can be helpful like remembering what item you put in your shopping cart while you continue shopping.  Cookies can also send data to third-parties that you are not aware of or keep your login data on a webpage on a public computer after you are done using it.  To help protect your data, we suggest changing your settings to initially block most or all cookies and only enable cookies for certain sites as you come across them. 

NOTE: First-party cookies (cookies for the domain you are on) help with the general web browsing feel we are all used to, for example, staying logged into your bank account site as you navigate from your checking to your savings account.  Therefore, blocking cookies entirely may not be ideal for your browsing needs.  Third-party cookies (cookies not specifically attached to the domain you visited) often are the cookies that contain issues and compromise data and can be blocked without interfering with you day-to-day web activities.

To configure cookies, select:


Tools | Internet Options | Privacy | Advanced, and:

  1. Select Override automatic cookie handling.
  2. Select Prompt or Accept for first- party cookies and Block for third-party cookies.  If you select Prompt, it will ask for each site what you want to keep, which is helpful for limiting cookie use but will have a lot notifications.


Main Menu | Options | Options | Privacy, and:

  1. Under History, select Use Custom Setting for History.
  2. Uncheck at least Accept third-party cookies.  You may instead want to uncheck Accept cookies from sites to block all cookies and enable individual cookies as you need to.
  3. Change the Keep Until value to I close Firefox so it won’t store first-party cookies after you close your browser window


Safari | Preferences | Privacy, and under Block cookies, select From third parties and advertisers.  You can also block all cookies if you wish by selecting Always and enable individual cookies as you need to.


Chrome Menu | Settings | Show Advanced Settings.  Under Privacy click Content settings.  Under Cookies, set the following:

  1. Select Keep local data only until I quit my browser.  You can instead select Block sites for setting any data if you want to elect which cookies to allow as you visit each site.
  2. Check Block third-party cookies and site data.


Main Menu | Settings | Preferences | Advanced | Cookies, and:

  1. Select Accept cookies only from the site I visit to disable third-party cookies.  You can instead select Never accept cookies if you want elect which cookies to allow as you visit each site.
  2. Check Delete new cookies when exiting Opera.


2. Don’t Store Passwords or Allow Sites to Remember Your Form Entries

Some webpages ask if you want to store information such as credit cards, usernames or passwords.  They may also give you the option to stay logged in or to “remember me.”  Having websites remember your information is like writing down a password on a piece of paper and sticking it on your front door.  Anyone who looks at the right door will see it.  To help yourself, be conscious of what you tell sites to remember and configure the following settings:


Tools | Internet Options, and:

  1. Select Advanced.  Then under Security, check Do not save encrypted pages to disk.
  2. Select Content.  Then under Autocomplete, click Settings and uncheck all.
  3. Select Privacy.  Then check Never allow websites to request your physical location.


Main Menu | Options |Options | Privacy, and:

  1. Under Tracking, select Tell sites that I do not want to be tracked.
  2. Under History, select Use Custom Setting for History. Uncheck Remember my browsing and download history.  Uncheck Remember search and form history.

Also select Main Menu | Options |Options | Security, and uncheck Remember passwords for sites.


Safari | Preferences, and:

  1. Select Autofill and uncheck all.
  2. Select Privacy and check Ask websites not to track me.


Chrome Menu | Settings, and:

  1. Under Privacy, click Content settings.  Under location, select Ask me when a site tries to track my physical location.
  2. Under Passwords and forms, uncheck Enable Autofill to fill out web forms in a single click and uncheck Offer to save passwords I enter on the web.


Main Menu | Settings | Preferences, and:

  1. Select Forms.  Uncheck Enable Password Manager.  Also do not enter any of the saved form data.
  2. Select Advanced |Security.  Check Ask websites not to track me.

NOTE:  If you would like to save your passwords because you created very strong passwords that may be hard to remember, we suggest an external password vault service that encrypts your password information locally and stores the encrypted information for you in the cloud.  Some popular ones are LastPass (, RoboForm (, and 1Password (


3. Disable Pop-ups

Pop-ups are generally advertisements or other little windows that force you to pay attention to them before you can get back to the webpage you are on.  This is a great advertising gimmick, but it’s also dangerous because a malicious pop-up may have a virus download on all links within the pop-up, including the Ok and Cancel buttons.  Crafty popups even make it so the X at the top of the window to close it contains a virus download.  Pop-ups may also take you to sites that can phish your information or otherwise trick you into putting yourself at risk.

Smart web developers have learned to not put content in pop-ups, so blocking all pop-ups should not negatively affect your browsing experience.  You can always allow certain pop-ups as you go if you need them.  Block all pop-ups by selecting:


Tools | Internet Options | Privacy, and check Turn on Pop-up Blocker.


Main Menu | Options | Options | Content, and click Block pop-up windows.


Safari | Preferences | Security, and check Block pop-up windows.


Chrome Menu | Settings, under Privacy click Content settings.  Select Do not allow any site to show pop-ups.


Main Menu |Settings |Preferences |General, and select Block all pop-ups


4. Limit Plug-ins and Add-ons

Downloaded toolbars, plug-ins and add-ons can be helpful for enhancing your browsing experience, but the more items you attach to your browser, the more possible vulnerabilities there are for an attacker to exploit.  Additionally, attackers may use Active X, JavaScript, VBScript, and Java to run malicious code on a website without your knowledge.   Unfortunately, many legitimate pages use JavaScript as part of their functionality.  Limiting these types of scripts, though, can help protect you from a surprise malware download.  We suggest blocking most or all and enabling individual sites as you go by performing the following:


Tools | Internet Options | Advanced.  Under Browsing, uncheck Enable third-party browser extensions (add-ons).

You will also want to select Security and click the Internet icon. Change the setting to High for the “Internet” zone.  Click the Trusted Sites icon and set this to Medium.  Add sites to the Trusted list as you go.


Main Menu  | Options | Options, and:

  1. Select Content and uncheck Enable JavaScript.  If desired you can keep Enable JavaScript checked, but click Advanced and uncheck all to limit JavaScript actions.
  2. Select Security, and check Warn when sites try to install add-ons.


Safari | Preferences | Security, and uncheck Enable JavaScript, uncheck Allow Java, and uncheck Allow all other plug-ins.


Chrome Menu | Settings. Under Privacy, click Content settings and:

  1.  Under JavaScript, select Do not allow any site to run JavaScript.
  2. Under Plug-ins, select Block all (you can instead select Click to play to be prompted).
  3.  Under Unsandboxed plug-in access, select Ask me when a site wants to use a plug-in to access my computer.


Main Menu | Settings |Preferences | Advanced | Content, and uncheck Enable JavaScript, uncheck Enable Java, and uncheck Enable plug-Ins.  If desired you can keep Enable JavaScript checked, but click JavaScript Options and uncheck all to limit JavaScript actions.


5. Enable Automatic Site Checking

Automatic Site Checking or other filters such as this will check webpages you visit against known fraudulent or malicious websites (a blacklist) and warns or blocks you before loading the page.  These features may also scan webpages for suspicious characteristics and flag you of potentially hazardous sites (which can be added to the blacklist if need be).


This feature is automatically on.  To verify that it’s on, select Tools |Safety | Turn on SmartScreen Filter.


Must be turned on by selecting Main Menu | Options | Options | Security.  Check Block reported attack sites and check Block reported web forgeries.


This feature is automatically on.  To verify that it’s on, select Safari | Preferences | Security, and check Warn when visiting a fraudulent website.


This feature may be automatically on.  To verify that it’s on, select Chrome Menu | Settings, and under Privacy check Enable phishing/malware protection.


This feature is automatically on.  To verify that it’s on, select Main Menu | Settings | Preferences | Advanced | Security and check Enable Fraud and Malware Protection


6. Prompt for Downloads

The Automatic Site checking mentioned above can help review downloads for malware, but there are other settings you can configure that can help alert when something is about to download in case you accidently click a link and realize you shouldn’t be downloading that item.  Even just prompting you to tell the browser where to save the file can make you pause and think about what you are downloading.  You should always be careful what you download and from where, and scan all email attachments and downloads with your anti-virus software.


Tools | Internet Options | Security |Custom Level.  Under Downloads, select Enable for Automatic prompting for file downloads.


Main Menu | Options | Options | Main, and under Downloads check Always ask me where to save files.


Safari | Preferences | General and uncheck Open “safe” files after downloading.

NOTE:  Just because Safari labels the file extension as “safe” doesn’t mean it actually is.  It’s also smart to open downloads only after the anti-virus scans them.


Chrome Menu | Settings, and under Downloads, check Ask where to save each file before downloading.


Main Menu | Settings | Preferences | Advanced | Downloads.  Here you can manage what to do for each type of file you may download.  For example, we recommend for EXE and BAT files to select Show the download dialog.


7. Clear Browsing Data/Temporary Internet Files

This removes all stored web data on your computer (cookies, cache, history, stored passwords/autofill data, etc.).  Since we just went through blocking new data from being saved, it’s smart to clear out any data that is currently there.   It’s also a good idea to repeat this step regularly to ensure any data that does still get saved, gets cleared.


Tools |Safety | Delete browsing history. Check the items to remove and click Delete.


Main Menu |History | Clear Recent History.  In the dropdown, change the amount of time you want to go back (recommended: Everything).  Click the arrow next to Details, check the items to remove and click Clear now.


Safari | Reset Safari. Check the items to remove and click Reset.


Chrome Menu | Tools | Clear Browsing Data. In the dropdown, change the amount of time you want to go back (recommended: The beginning of time).  Check the items to remove and click Clear browsing data.


Main Menu | Settings | Delete Private Data.  Check the items to remove and click Delete.


Private Browsing Windows

Many browsers also have a feature that allows you to navigate the web without saving search history, form information, cached information, and some cookies.  While private browsing windows and tabs can be a start to keeping your information safe, it should not be relied on as a means to be “off the grid” or as a total replacement for the security settings mentioned above.


What It’s Called

How to Set It


InPrivate Browsing

Tools | Safety | InPrivate Browsing


Private Browsing

Main Menu  | New Private Window


Private Browsing

Safari | Private Browsing


Incognito Mode

Chrome Menu  | New Incognito Window


Private Tab/Window

Main Menu  | Tabs and Windows | New Private Window



Using these recommended security settings do not negate the effects of malware that could already be installed on your computer.  For example, keyloggers can capture your data even if your browser doesn’t save it.  Be sure to keep your anti-virus up-to-date and scan your computer regularly for threats.  These security settings also do not exempt you from phishing attacks.  Be careful what information you share online and never provide your password to anyone.  More details can be found in various sections of our Best Practices pages (

Using LinkedIn’s New Two-Factor Authentication

The growing trend in sites adding two-factor authentication to their log in process has many feeling more secure in their social media and other online interactions.

With passwords being easy to compromise with phishing attacks, many users have been hoping for something more secure.  Two-factor authentication gives a double protection on your account, requiring you to know something (your password), and have something in your possession (a token).  The token can be any number of devices, cards or other physical items, often generating unique codes as proof you have the object.  Think of ATMs.  You need to have the ATM card (the token) and know your PIN in order to access your account and do any transactions at the ATM.  One without the other and you can’t get in.

LinkedIn is using a single-use code sent via SMS to whatever mobile number is listed on the account.  Your mobile device serves as your token.  This code is entered into the site after you enter your password to complete the two-factor authentication.  The idea behind this is if your password happens to be cracked or phished, as long as you don’t lose or compromise your phone, you are still safe from attackers logging into your account (though you should change your passwords and do a virus scan to be safe if your password gets compromised!).  

Want to enable this security feature for your own LinkedIn account? LinkedIn provides some instructions here:  

Many other sites have similar security features so check out your account settings and give yourself an extra layer of protection.


As with any security chain, there are ways this could possibly be compromised.  The easy way is if an attacker knows your password and stole your phone.  A more sophisticated way is if you get phished for both your password and the code just sent to you, and the attacker users both before the code expires.  How likely could these happen?  Well that’s up to your security prowess.  Read more on our website about creating secure passwords (, avoiding phishing attempts ( and best practices when it comes to mobile device security ( 

Awareness Posters and Videos


In the last EDUCAUSE Poster and Video contest, RIT student and Information Security Office employee Karyn Lewis won several monetary awards for her posters. We'll provide information on the 2013 contest as it's available. Click on the thumbnails below to see the posters.

Other Student-Produced Posters from RIT

Arden Kelly "Keep Your Private Things Private"Cristin Sick "Is this Your Version of Computer Self Defense?"Richard Kim "When Connected, Stay Protected"


Retro RIT Information Security Awareness Video created by Rachel Diesel. (Temporarily unavailable.)

The EDUCAUSE Information Security Poster and Video Contest has had a number of interesting entries. View their YouTube page at:  We've embedded a couple of them on this page. 


2011 Gold Winner, PSA: "Protecting Your Computer in a Public Place"



2011 Gold Winner, Training Video: "The Right Kind of Bait"


2009 Gold Winner, Training Video: "Cyber Security Awareness"


Cloud Computing Best Practices

Cloud Computing Best Practices

We've provided some general information below about cloud computing. At RIT, information handling requirements (including the use of non-RIT servers for storage) are articulated in the Information Access and Protection Standard. Refer to the standard for more information about storage restrictions based on information classification.

There are certainly some benefits to cloud computing, but the practice of saving content on the Internet is facing more scrutiny than ever. While there is no silver bullet solution to securing your cloud service, understanding how you can protect yourself is the best way to keep your information private.

  • Keep up to date with the latest cloud security developments. Because cloud computing is constantly evolving and adapting to new security threats, you need to upgrade your security as often as possible. As this article states, “hackers target vulnerable operating systems that don't have properly applied patches.”
  • Add file caching capability to your computer. Consider local caching of your files on your computer as a backup for your cloud service. Cloud computing is perfect for sharing team files, but the network can go down and bring project progress to a standstill. Having your files to work off of, even if they aren’t perfectly synced, is an essential backup if you want to continue working. This is also convenient if you encounter a security breach, because it allows you to find any changes or deletions in your files.
  • Don’t just rely on cloud computing. If it’s not maintained by you, there is never a guarantee that your information will be there. When Megaupload was taken down by the FBI, many users found that they lost all of their own data as part of that effort to stop the distribution of copyrighted materials. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) sometimes recommend that you store your data with several cloud services, which is more costly due to subscription costs and is less effective than hosting your own backup system. Most CSPs save your information in one place, so you would be buying multiple services that depend upon a single source.
  • Know which programs or services you use that are supported by cloud service providers. This allows you to keep better track of what information you could potentially lose or have stolen in the event of a CSP security breach. This knowledge can be critical to protecting your private information; if you’re not aware of what is available, you may become an unsuspecting victim.
  • Be aware that your system can easily be transferred to another server in the CSP’s network. Although this is a major advantage of cloud computing, if you deal with sensitive or classified information it is better at this point in cloud service development to work exclusively with more secure in-house systems.
  • Keep up to date on any infrastructure or policy changes for your CSP. Having a good relationship with your CSP is important, to ensure that you know when they change how they handle and secure your information. Although you may not be able to access security information in the same way you could on an internal system, understanding how your information is saved and monitored could quickly alert you to a problem.
  • Compare encryption standards between various CSP’s. Look for an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) since it’s the best standard currently available to secure your data. An SAS 70 Type II datacenter is also widely acknowledged as a very secure physical housing of information. Having access to a CSP with both of these systems will help secure your information a bit better.


To learn more about cloud computing:



Safe Online Shopping & Banking

Safe Online Shopping & Banking

Use a Secure Computer

Make sure your computer meets the RIT Desktop & Portable Computer Standard before getting online. In addition to up-to-date anti-virus, make sure that your operating system and your web browser have the latest security patches installed.

Don't use public computers to send private information over the Internet. You cannot be sure what security measures are in place and other people may have altered settings or installed malware without your knowledge.

Research the Company/Website

Investigate any bank or retailer you are considering using. How trustworthy are they?

Use the FDIC Bank Find page to make sure the bank is insured by the FDIC.

Check the company's privacy policy. Some companies may sell your e-mail address and/or other contact information to third parties, leading to more spam in your inbox (if there is no privacy policy, you're better off avoiding that site).

Plug the website name into a search engine. What kinds of consumer reviews are returned?

If you're shopping at an auction site, check out the seller's feedback. Have other people had good experiences with them? What forms of payment will they accept?

Research the Product/Service

Learn more about the product or service you are considering. Are you getting exactly what you want? Look for fine print-are there hidden fees or terms?

Are the prices too good to be true? Insane deals are sometimes used to disguise malicious links. They may also be an indication that the product is actually a counterfeit.

What is the seller's return/exchange policy? Do they cover damaged goods?

What is the bank's policy on fraud? How much protection do they offer? Will they reimburse fraudulent transactions?

What about shipping costs? Is there a minimum purchase amount? Tip: If you're making several purchases, try to combine them on the same order when possible. Not only does it reduce the number of transactions you have to make, but you might save a bundle on shipping costs too!

Use Strong Passwords

Use a strong, unique password or pass phrase where allowed. Most online banks (and some retail websites) offer an additional layer of security such as:

Using an on-screen keyboard to enter in passwords (this protects against keyloggers).

Requiring an additional password or personal identification number.

Requiring you to answer a challenge-response question each time you login (e.g., what is your grandmother's maiden name?).

Smart cards or tokens that generate a single-use password (meaning you cannot access your account without this physical device).

Select an online banking service that uses one of the above methods or some other type of additional security protection.

Make Sure the Website Uses Encryption

When you're ready to submit your information, look for the following indicators that the website is secure:

The address bar should begin with either shttp or https (not just "http") and there must be a padlock in your web browser (the location varies by browser, it usually appears in the address bar or the status bar at the bottom).

Never submit your login information by e-mail. Scammers go to great lengths to make e-mails appear genuine, but no legitimate bank or retailer will ever ask you to submit private information by e-mail.

Use a Secure Payment Method

When shopping through an online retailer or through an auction site, make sure you use a secure payment method.

Credit cards are one of the safer options. Federal law limits your liability in the event of credit card fraud to only $50. MasterCard and Visa also offer zero liability for most debit card transactions as well.

See if your bank or credit card issuer offers one-time use or "virtual" card numbers. These are card numbers that you can sign up for and activate for a limited time period. They still link to your regular card/account, however the number is completely different. This means your active account number doesn't have to be transmitted over the Internet at all.

Never give out a bank account number to anyone, and be wary of anyone who insists upon cash or wire transfer only.

Monitor Your Accounts

Keep track of all your purchases/account history from start to finish and beyond.

Print out all your orders and receipts, as well as e-mail confirmations and product descriptions. If possible, request that your bank mail you a monthly account statement and compare it to your online statements.

Follow up your purchases by closely watching your bank account and/or credit card statements to monitor for any unauthorized transactions.

You may also want to check your credit report annually (check for free at

Problems and Complaints

Online Banking Complaints

There are several different organizations that regulate financial institutions in the United States. The links below provide additional information on safe online banking as well as instructions for filing a complaint:

FDIC - Safe Internet Banking

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - Online Brokerage Accounts: What You Can Do to Safeguard Your Money and Your Personal Information

New York Fed - Tips for Safe Banking Over the Internet

Online Shopping Complaints

If you think you have been a victim of online shopping fraud and/or cannot resolve a problem with the seller, contact the following agencies:

Better Business Bureau

Additional Links

Online Shopping Tips

Online Banking

FDIC Bank Find:



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