IT Security Tips and Common Terms

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You and ITS work together as a team to keep your information safe online. We've worked with a lot of students, faculty, and staff over the years, and have come up with a few simple steps you can use to develop healthier digital habits.

Digital Security Tips

We work with a lot of students, faculty, and staff, so we've seen it all: weak passwords, malware attacks, data breaches, and device theft. It only takes a few minutes to set up a strong password, look closely at a software download, or trust your gut when opening that unfamiliar email. Here are some timeless tips that never go out of style when it comes to staying safe in a digital world:


  • Protect your data with strong passwords.
    • Coppin password policy requires passwords:
      • Be 12 characters minimum
      • Have 1 upper case letter and
      • Have at least 1 digit
      • Not be the user’s first or last name
  • Change your password frequently.
    • Coppin password policy requires password changes every 120 days. 
  • Do not share your passwords.


  • Be cautious of what software and applications you install.
  • Stay away from “free” software, music or videos. They may have  spyware, adware, or viruses.

Information and File Sharing

  • Do not leave your laptop/any held held devices unattended unless it is physically secure.
  • Be aware that file sharing in violation of copyright is prohibited.
  • Do not use, copy, or share copyrighted works unless you have the legal right to.

Email and Networks

  • Do not open e-mail messages or click on links in messages that come from strangers or an untrusted source.
  • Only connect to trusted and secure wireless networks.

Device Security

  • Do not leave your laptop, cell phone, tablet or other device unattended unless physically secure.

Still have questions or want to report a suspected IT security incident? Email us

Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

- John Wooden

Common Cybersecurity Terms

If you're not a cybersecurity expert, it can be difficult to understand what's new in digital security. We're here to break it down! These are terms that are helpful to know, especially when you're thinking about how to protect yourself against the newest digital threats. 

A IT system’s ability to determine the actions and behavior of a single individual within a system, and to identify that particular individual.

Owned or licensed software that's used exactly as the license intends. This can also be software that's approved to perform a specific job or function.

The reliable and timely access to data or computing resources by the appropriate people.

Keeping information restricted, and protected from intentional or unintentional sharing with unauthorized people, processes, and/or devices.

A legal protection of intellectual property that is provided for by the laws of the United States to the owners of copyright including, but not limited to, literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, pictorial, graphic, film, multi-media works, software, digital works, and unpublished materials.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) is the federal law that prohibits the copying and/or distribution of digital copyrighted material without the owner's permission.

A safeguard used to control access between a trusted network and a less trusted one. It is also a strategy to protect an organization’s internet-reachable resources.

Any event, suspected event or attempted action that could pose a threat to the integrity, availability, confidentiality, or accountability of an IT System. Incidents include an attempted security breach, IT System disruption or outage.

Data uniquely labeling a user to a system.

Crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of a person's information such as Social Security Number, driver's license numbers and other such items and uses it for their own personal gain. This can include obtaining credit, goods, services, money, or property.

Freedom from corruption or unauthorized modification; internal and external consistency.

Automated systems: communications systems including wireless systems, computer systems, hardware and software, application systems, networks, workstations, servers, personal digital assistants and data on the IT System.

Short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.

A system containing any combination of computers, computer terminals, printers, audio or visual display devices or telephones interconnected by telecommunications equipment or cables, used to transmit or receive information.

The practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images, and video), documents, or electronic books directly between users.

Typically an email scam which tries to trick people into thinking a legitimate organization is requesting private information. These scams request you to either reply, or follow a link to a site that often looks identical to the service the email is mimicking. Banks, E-bay, and PayPal are traditional targets.

Data pertaining to individuals or organizations that, if released, could cause harm.

Unwanted electronic communication, often considered junk e-mail. Majority spam is related to commercial advertising promoting questionable products or services often to commit identity theft or other types of fraud over the internet.

Type of scam that targets a specific organization in an attempt to trick people into revealing private information. Often, those sending out the scams have researched the targeted organization for names the organization uses, practices, and other details to lend their scams an air of authenticity. Some spear phishing emails may look identical to an announcement you may expect from that organization.

Program that makes copies of itself, attaches to other programs, and performs unwanted or malicious actions when it runs. They are designed to corrupt and delete data or spread themselves to other computers.

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