Safe Computing Practices

Boston University maintains recommendations and policies about how technology can be used safely on the BU campus and elsewhere.  These are some recommendations for end users that BUMC IT suggests, in order to protect your data and with respect to general security.

Keeping your computer and applications up to date

BUMC IT-managed computers already have automatic updates and patching enabled.  When using a personal computer for work or when connecting it to the BU network, you will want to ensure that your computer’s software is up to date and that you have all of the latest security patches.  You can set this up by following these instructions:

  • For Windows, search for “software update” from the Control Panel.
  • For Mac OS X, click on the Apple logo in the upper left hand corner, and click “Software Update…”

Some applications will look for updates on their own, and others need a little help. For more information, go to our section focused on updating applications.

Backing up your data

Accidentally deleting or overwriting a file is the easiest way to lose your work.  To prevent this, make sure that you are backing up essential data on a regular basis. For your computers, this can be accomplished by utilizing BU resources like CrashPlan, the BUMC Y drive or the BU data archive.  Departments and labs that want large data storage allocations may require additional consulting.  Feel free to contact BUMC IT with questions.

Connecting Securely

Connecting to the Internet is essential for most modern computing tasks.  Connecting to the BU network, and to the Internet anywhere, should be done with security in mind to prevent data from being compromised.


Most computers now come with a built-in firewall, which is usually enabled by default (especially if it is set up by BUMC IT staff).  Firewalls alone cannot totally protect your computer, but they do help to prevent communication between other computers on the Internet and yours.  For more information, please visit:


Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology used to securely extend the campus network to wherever your computer is.  Using the BU VPN encrypts the connection between your computer and the University to ensure that your data is protected.  It also allows you to access campus resources that you otherwise would not be able to access offsite, such as the Y Drive. Use of the VPN should be considered when connecting to an unknown network or open wi-fi network.


Wi-Fi is the predominant way most laptops, and even some smart phones and tablets, connect to the Internet.  At BU, your wireless connection is encrypted, but this isn’t always the case when you use public Wi-Fi hotspots.  When using a public Wi-Fi hotspot (like at Starbucks, the library, or on the commuter rail), be sure to also use the two-factor VPN  to encrypt all of your traffic to keep your data safe.

Helpful Links

Updating Windows

Registering Your Laptop


Two-Factor VPN

How to Lock Your Computer