Safe computing guide for employees

Think your account has been compromised?

Compromised accounts happen! If you accidentally click a phishing link or suspect your email has been compromised, make sure to report it as soon as possible. The sooner you report it, the quicker we can help you get back on track.

Contact the Computer Help Desk

How to keep your devices secure

At UVic we rely on computers and mobile devices for teaching, researching, and supporting the University community. You can use this guide to learn the basics of safe computing and find resources to learn more.

Encrypt your devices

Encryption adds a layer of protection if your work device is ever lost or stolen. Whole Disk Encryption (WDE) prevents others from accessing the data on your device without your consent. Modern operating systems encrypt your device without slowing it down.

University Systems supports Windows BitLocker and macOS FileVault 2 for any UVic-owned devices. All computers with a UVic standard software image are setup for encryption.

Update software often

Make sure your operating system is applying security updates. Don’t forget about your applications too! Software like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and web browsers also release security updates and bug fixes. Some applications won’t launch properly or connect to services if they’re too out of date. Try to install updates as soon as they’re released to keep your computer safe.

Use computer security software

Security software protects your computer from threats like unauthorized access, viruses, and malware. We use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MSDE) to secure computers on campus. MSDE is available free of charge for UVic-owned Windows, Linux, and macOS computers.

All computers with a UVic standard software image have MSDE pre-installed.

Back up your data often

Make regular copies of important data stored on your computer. You can use an enterprise backup service like UVic OneDrive or IBM Spectrum Protect (formerly Tivoli Storage Manager). Backups help you prevent data loss if your computer is:

  • lost or stolen
  • damaged or the hard drive fails
  • attacked by a virus or malware

Any data stored on a network storage drive or UVic SharePoint site is automatically backed up for you.

Protect sensitive data

Your computer has sensitive data about you and others on campus. Depending on your role, you may have access to highly confidential information or research data. The best place to store data is on a network storage drive like Network storage is:

There are also options for safely sharing data with others:

You can learn more about how to secure your data in our help centre.

Manage your account credentials

Every day you use your UVic NetLink ID to login to campus computers and resources. Here are five tips to keep it secure:

  • create a strong passphrase that is easy for you to remember, but tough for someone else to guess. Check out our password tips page for more details
  • make unique passphrase for each account you use
  • use a password manager to keep track of your accounts
  • never share your passphrase with others
  • turn on UVic MFA for another layer of account protection

Control physical access to your computer

Keep your devices safe and stored properly when you aren’t using them. Laptops and mobile devices are easy targets for theft, especially in public areas or unlocked offices.

Use email safely

Phishing emails are faked to make us believe they’re from a real sender. Some are really obvious while others can be harder to spot. UVic’s Phishing Awareness training is a self-guided course that teaches you to how to protect yourself from phishing scams. Phish Bowl also gives real examples of phish and how to spot them. Both are full of great information you can use at work and at home.

To keep yourself and others safe from phishing,

  • do not respond to unsolicited emails that ask for personal information, especially account logins
  • be wary of attachments, links, and forms you aren’t expecting
  • do not forward phishing emails to other people
  • report phishing emails using the Report Phishing button in Outlook

When sending emails,

  • always double check the To and CC addresses to ensure they are correct
  • use BCC if recipients should not know who else received the email
  • when sending bulk email, use BCC.  Note that broadcast email or other mass communications to all faculty, staff and/or students, or major segments thereof, require permission from the Registrar, the University Secretary, or the Executive Director, Communications + Marketing.
  • where possible, share files using UVic OneDrive instead of attaching files to emails
  • password-protect file attachments containing confidential information
  • only use your UVic email address when sending work related emails

Practice safe internet browsing

Keep your internet connection secure so your data cannot be intercepted. Be careful about where you download software from to avoid malware.

  • only download software from official sources and do not use cracked or pirated versions
  • avoid search results for software downloads that are labelled with "Sponsored" or "Ad" since they may be fakes
  • do not enter personal or sensitive information on websites marked as "Not secure" by your browser
  • use VPN whenever you’re on public Wi-Fi

Managed computers

If your computer is managed by Desktop Support Services, it will:

  • be encrypted
  • apply regular software updates
  • have security software installed


Computer Help Desk and Desktop Support Services (DSS) staff are ready to answer questions about information security. They can help you:

  • secure your UVic-owned devices
  • investigate suspicious links and emails
  • respond if your device or account is compromised

Contact the Computer Help Desk

Learn more about information security