Data Security is of extreme importance in an age where private data is frequently stolen, sold, and even held for ransom.  You've surely heard horror stories of corporations, institutions, and government agencies paying millions to ransomware thieves because it's less expensive than rebuilding decades worth of vital internally stored data.  Below are links to specific security concerns and related actions we can all take to help keep our data secure.

Relevant WU Policies

Information Security Policy
Data Storage Guidelines
Antivirus/Endpoint Protection

AV Software (Endpoint Protection)

The term 'Antivirus' fails to encompass an array of new tactics and developing threats to computer and data security.  Endpoint Security (client software aimed at protecting end-user devices on a network) is a critical tool in the quest for data protection.  All network-connected university-owned computers run the latest version of Sophos Endpoint Protection. This software is also available for you to install on any personally owned computers and devices, and a requirement if you use a personally owned device to access university data. Here's the link to their Free version for computers and other devices: Download Free Sophos

And if you're using a university-provided computer at home, be sure to connect to our VPN (Virtual Private Network) for at least 30 minutes to receive Sophos updates automatically.

Data Storage

Storing vital data on your computer's hard drive always puts this data at risk of loss or theft.  The most secure way to store data is in one of our systems of record (WISE, SAGE, etc.). If you need to create a file containing confidential data, store it in an online network drive where backup, redundancy, and retrieval tools keep it safe from threats like accidental spills, overzealous pets, and window-smashing laptop thieves.  Shared departmental network folders are the ideal place in which to store data used by your department, and your personal netfiles folder (AKA: H drive) is the place to keep files you'd normally leave on your desktop or laptop hard drive.

Note to Departmental Network Drive users:  For security reasons the "Out_Box" feature will no longer be available after July 1, 2021.

Want to connect to your departmental network drive?  Visit our Network File Storage help page to learn how.

Need to connect to your network drives and more from off campus?  Visit our VPN page and, once connected to VPN, you can map network drives from off campus as if you were on campus!

Additional Security Measures

Offline File Security
If working on locally stored files without an internet connection, VPN won't be available.  Be sure to password-protect or encrypt any files containing confidential data and remove password protection once the file is returned to a safe network storage location.  Don't forget the password or encryption key or it's goodbye data.
Encrypt MS Office file using Password

Working from Home
Please do not let children, pets, and other household members use your university-owned computer.  Kids spill things, pets chew things, and repairs are expensive...but nowhere near as expensive as data recovery.

If you share a household computer with your family, create a password-protected user account for your exclusive use.
Create a local user account in Windows
Create a local user account in MacOS

Email and Security
If you need to send confidential data via email, submit a WITS Service Request to obtain an email encryption (Virtru) License.

Phishing is a constant threat.  Always use caution before assuming an email is legitimate and report anything suspicious to WITS before clicking...or sending gift cards...or giving away your password to ANYONE.

Why all the hubbub over file security?
It's the law
There are real-world costs to poor data security practices. Much of our internally housed data is protected by laws such as FERPA.  Legal ramifications of lost sensitive data can devastate an institution in terms of financial stability and overall reputation, and an individual through identity theft or stolen funds from accounts.  Take data security as seriously as possible...much is at stake.

An unexpected email or pop-up claims you need to contact Apple Support or Microsoft / Windows support immediately?  DON'T EVER BELIEVE IT. That "support call" usually results in your computer being nefariously locked, university data encrypted, and now your data is being held for ransom.  Anywhere from $300 (home computer) up to $71M in the most extreme case (corporate datacenter) will be demanded for the return of your data.

If you have questions or suggestions about these or any security topics, please contact WITS


Willamette University

Willamette Integrated Technology Services

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6004 voice
503-375-5456 fax

Back to Top