Secure Your Computer and Devices

Keeping devices secure, which helps protect all GW students, faculty and staff, is a shared responsibility between GW Information Technology and the entire GW community. GW IT provides a number of tips and guidelines for securing your computer and devices through strong passwords, physical security, firewalls and anti-virus protection. 

University Owned Devices

University owned computers managed by GW IT have antivirus protection software installed.  This software is also available in the Software Center (Windows OS) and Self Service (macOS). For assistance with antivirus protection software on University owned computers, please contact GW IT support.


Personal Devices

GW IT recommends the following antivirus protection for personal devices:

Windows OS Personal devices should utilize the pre-installed Microsoft Defender Antivirus software.
macOS Personal devices should utilize the free versions of Avira Antivirus or Sophos Home software.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers a security benchmark program to provide well-defined, unbiased and consensus-based industry best practices to help organizations assess and improve security. The GW Community has access to these services to help adopt security practices when designing and managing university resources.

The CIS Benchmark Program provides resources on secure configuration benchmarks, automated configuration assessment tools and content, security metrics and security software product certifications. 

To learn more about membership benefits and how to register for an account, please review the Center for Internet Security solution in the GWiz Knowledge Base. 

Passwords are used every day for a variety of reasons, and choosing strong passwords is crucial in protecting your privacy. When you create a password, be sure to:

  • Use numbers and/or punctuation
  • Use at least eight characters 
  • Mix uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Avoid using "dictionary words," or words that are properly spelled and not separated by punctuation or numbers
  • Avoid including personal information, such as your name or other easily determined information
  • Change your password regularly, once every few months or more frequently
  • Use different passwords for different sites and applications
  • Never share your passwords with anyone

A firewall acts as a barrier between the Internet and your computer or GW network and protects your device from viruses and other threats.  Firewalls serve as a first defense against threats, and you should make sure you have them on your devices, but they do not protect your devices against all potential dangers. 

GW IT provides Symantec Endpoint Protection, which includes a firewall, to all active GW students, staff and faculty; this software can be downloaded on the GW IT Software Downloads page.

Get Safe Online: Use a Firewall

Physical device security involves taking steps to protect your devices from theft and keep unwanted users from logging in to your computers or accessing your information. 

To protect your computer and other devices, you should always:

  • Avoid leaving your devices unattended or setting them on the floor when you are in public places.
  • If you need to leave your laptop in your car, keep it in the trunk or another out-of-sight place.
  • Avoid using obvious-looking laptop bags for your devices; instead, carry a subtle shoulder bag or backpack.
  • When you are away from your computer or desk, store your devices in a locked drawer if possible or make use of a physical computer lock.
  • Configure your computer to lock after a brief period of inactivity ,and set your screen saver to require a password.
  • Never allow your web browser to automatically set a password for you.

Physical locks are the best means to prevent your laptop from being stolen, as they deter thieves looking for easy targets.  Computer cable locks are easy-to-use solutions that loop and attach to inserts or brackets on your computer.

Learn 8 ways to prevent laptop theft.