University of Southern California

Back to School Security Reminders

Posted on by mbordas

Classes may have only just begun but it’s not too early to think about information security. Below are a few tips for keeping your accounts and devices safe.

Set Strong Passwords

The longer your password, the more secure it is against brute force attacks. Though USC requires that you make a password of at least 12 characters, ITS recommends making it as long as possible, up to USC’s current maximum of 32 characters. Every extra character makes your password that much more difficult for a password cracker to guess.

ITS also recommends that you use a unique password for each of your online accounts. If an attackers steals one of your passwords, the attacker won’t then be able to use it to access any other account.

For more information about password security, see

Change or Update Your Password as Necessary

Requirements for USC NetID accounts require you to change your password annually. However, it’s a good idea to change your password immediately if:

  • You suspect you may have been phished or hacked.
  • You are using the same password across multiple accounts.

If you need to update or change your password, you can use the newly redesigned USC NetID Account Services website at

On this site you can:

  • Activate your USC NetID account.
  • Set or change the email address used to confirm changes to your account.
  • Change or update your current password.
  • Reset your password if you have forgotten it.

Set Passcodes on your Mobile Devices

Most mobile devices include a passcode feature. ITS recommends always setting a passcode so that any personal information or data on your device is safe even if the device itself gets lost or stolen.

Install Anti-Virus Software

ITS offers anti-virus software for free to all USC students, faculty, and staff. Installing and updating anti-virus software is an important way to protect your computers from malware and other online threats.

For more information about USC’s free anti-virus software, see

Take Advantage of 2FA

Many online services offer two-factor authentication, a means of verifying that the person attempting to log into your account is actually you. ITS recommends enabling this feature wherever possible.

USC offers a 2FA solution to all faculty and staff for use when accessing many USC systems; for more information, see

Learn About Phishing

Phishing is one of the major ways attackers steal users’ personal information or account credentials. Phishing involves sending fraudulent email or other messages designed to look like legitimate communications. These emails can contain infected attachments or include links to forged websites that request personal information or account credentials.

A general rule of thumb is to never open an attachment or click a link in an email unless you know that the email is legitimate.

For more information about phishing, see

Where to Find Help

The ITS Customer Support Center (CSC) provides computing assistance to the USC community. You can contact the CSC by calling 213-740-5555 or emailing

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