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FAQ: What should I do when connecting my personal Windows computer to the network?



This FAQ is written for all current versions of Windows. 

  • Before you connect - When your machine connects to the network it is vulnerable unless you have a firewall on and passwords on your accounts. Put good passwords on all your accounts and ensure that the firewall is enabled.
  • Consult - Make sure that you consult your local computer support for an appropriate configuration for that network connection before connecting your machine to the network.

    Each institution on the CUDN can have its own requirements for connecting to the network. You must follow the institution guidelines.

  • Password protection- Your computer should have an account for each user. If these accounts are not protected by good passwords others can use them to gain access to the computer. This is possible without even being at the computer and if the remote user gains "Administrator" rights they can then do anything they want. You MUST password protect accounts with strong passwords before the computer is connected to a network. For advice on choosing a strong password see IS6: Changing/Choosing Your Passwords.
  • Personal firewalls-

    Current versions of Windows come with a firewall which should be enabled. There are other third-party products available eg various "security suites" which include a firewall which advanced users may prefer to use. Your firewall should be installed and enabled before connecting to the network. Note that all users on the Cambridge University Data Network should allow inbound ping - see the Home user guide to PC Security

  • Patch and Update - All operating systems and applications need patching to fix security vulnerabilities. This means before you start checking email or surfing the internet. Automated attacks can happen when browsing so update your computer and its applications before using it. You should enabled automatic updating on your operating system and applications and ensure your browser is up to date before using it.
  • Protect yourself from viruses - VirusScan is available locally free of charge as the University of Cambridge has a site licence for it. You can download and install VirusScan from PC downloads. Other products are available for free, some are better than others. Consult with your local computer officer or the UIS service desk for advice if you are unsure.


  • Be wary of installing plug ins and additional software. 

    Do not download and run software when prompted to install from websites you have never heard of or come across via a URL. Much malware gets onto systems by saying it is important to install a plug-in or video codec to view material on the site. In most cases you will just need Flash Player (referred to above) which is available from to view most content. You may have to enable Javascript in your browser, which also comes with some risks. Please note that you should enable this product to automatically update.

  • Ask - If you are in the least uncertain, ask your local computer support or the UIS Service Help Desk for advice. Prevention is a lot better than cure! If you think your computer is infected or hacked disconnect it from the network immediately then ask for advice.


Last updated: June 2016