Person working on laptop in cafe.

How To Stay Safe Online While Working And Studying Remotely

How many times have you accessed UW–Madison websites off campus? Whether you’re a student or an employee of UW–Madison, it’s becoming more common to work or study from remote locations. 

It’s also becoming more common for hackers to access computers that have outdated operating systems or software that hasn’t been updated or patched. How do you know if your computer is protected? What steps can you take to keep your private information secure?

Relax. We’re here to help keep you and your digital information safe with an easy to use guide. If you use a personal computer, follow these four steps for Securing Your Computer. (If you use a computer owned by UW–Madison, check with your department IT administrator before installing software or reconfiguring the system.)

Tips for remote computer work

Use secure networks if possible (the free wi-fi available at most locations may allow hackers to access your information).

Make sure your operating systems and versions are up to date (Windows, MacOS).

Install and run free antivirus software on your personal computers.

Download and install WiscVPN (virtual private network) which routes all your online traffic through UW–Madison for enhanced security. (A must if you’re on public/unsecured wi-fi!)

Verify that your firewall is up and running.

Never share your NetID, password or multi-factor authentication credentials or any usernames and passwords with anyone—ever! Instead, use LastPass for FREE! This password manager eliminates the need for you to remember multiple user names and passwords.

Be aware of your surroundings (shoulder surfers are good at stealing the password you just entered).

Never store protected information (Social Security Numbers, credit card info, financial records) on your personal computers. Faculty and staff can use UW–Madison approved Spirion software to see if their personal computers contain protected information.

If you do not have access to a university owned or personal computer, you may rent one by filling out a rental request form.

Find other helpful guides to keep you safe.