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Security and Malware

In order to mitigate the number of potential problems in dealing with computer security, DCU have drafted an ICT Policy, which we would ask all users to familiarise themselves with.

This section provides guidance and advice on how best to ensure compliance with this security policy, in order to minimise disruption to college services due to viruses, malware, spam and phishing attacks.

We encourage all staff and students to farmiliarise themselves with these policies. Click on the relevant links below to learn more:


Security and Malware

 Malware Information 

Malware Information

Short for "malicious software," malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. Common examples of malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. Viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer's hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Spyware can gather data from a user's system without the user knowing it. This can include anything from the Web pages a user visits to personal information, such as credit card numbers.

As Malware can have potentially devastating effects, it is vital that all computer users be aware of this an implement best practices to avoid infection. Malware also possess the ability to propagate so that once they infect your computer they may be able to send themselves to every email address in your address book, clogging up the College email server. Malware may also propagate via shared folders on the College network disrupting various network facilities.

College Policy on Malware Management

College Policy states that Information Systems Services and users are equally obliged to exercise due care and vigilance in combating Malware. It is in the interests of all users to protect the information on their computers as some Malware can do irreversible damage such as deleting your files.



DCU has published ICT Policies and Guidelines which all university users are obliged to adhere to.

Click here to view ICT Policies and Guidelines 

This document outlines University Policy as well as advice on practical ways that all members of the university can help to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of university information technology resources.

IT Security Incidents are reported every year the most numerous of those being malware related attacks and all users of the university network have a responsibility to ensure that they have taken all possible steps to avoid infection by malware, whether they are using university owned or privately owned machines.

 ISS Services Anti-malware Procedures 

ISS Services Anti-malware Procedures


Information Systems Services have invested in a comprehensive anti-malware scanning systems to ensure that all email entering and leaving college is scanned for known viruses and infected emails are quarantined or deleted where appropriate. Additionally some file extensions which are known to be associated with viruses are blocked by the College Mail system.


College has a site licence for the installation of anti-malware software on all computers on the network, either college or privately owned. All computers attached to the college network are obliged to run up-to-date anti-malware software. Information Systems Services constantly monitor the college network for evidence of virus infections. Where a computer is identified as having a virus which may spread to other computers on the network, Information Systems Services may disable the computers network connection. Users who suspect that their network point has been disabled for this reason should contact the ISS Service Desk (5007). Once IS Services support staff have confirmed that the machine is clear of infection the computers network connection will be enabled again.

User Responsibilities

All users should install Anti-malware software and follow the instructions to ensure that their computer is protected from viruses. Please contact ISS Service Desk if you have any questions.

 McAfee VirusScan 

McAfee VirusScan

McAfee VirusScan Enterprise combines antivirus, antispyware, firewall, and intrusion prevention technologies to proactively detect and remove malware. It reduces the cost of managing outbreak responses, stops zero-day threats, and mitigates the window of vulnerability—the time between the discovery of a vulnerability and when fixes are deployed

A site license for McAfee is available to all DCU staff. If you wish to submit a software request please click here.

 Encryption Overview 

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of converting data into a cipher or code in order to prevent unauthorised access. On Campus DCU use McAfee Endpoint Encryption which offers multiple layers of protection that address specific areas of risk. Encryption can be extended not just to PCs, laptops, but also to network files and folders, mobile devices, removable media, and portable storage devices.

McAfee Encryption Service FAQ

If you have any queries regarding the Mcafee Encryption Service you can submit a ticket to the ISS Service Desk, All the General Requirements, Application Processes, Support and FAQ can be found here:

DCU Encryption Service - FAQ (PDF)

DCU Data Classification Guidelines

A combination of data confidentiality, integrity and availability. Whether a set of data is LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH, or of VERY HIGH impact will inform the data classification and whether or not the data set should be considered sensitive data. To decide on the level of impact please refer to Dcu's Data Classification policy:

DCU Data Classification Policy (PDF)

DCU Data Handling Guidelines

These guidelines are to provide guidance to data custodians as to how they may protect data classified under the headings defined in the Data Classification policy. These guidelines are considered best practice for the protection of that data which can be found on the following website also:

DCU Data Handling Guidelines (PDF)

 Encryption (Phones) 

Encryption (Phones)

The vast majority of smart phones can connect to the DCU apps via the mobile apps (e.g. Email, Calendar, Docs) but some may not meet the criteria. If your phone model is unable to meet the required standard, you can still connect to DCU Apps through your mobile's browser (go to Please note: Windows 7 phones can not meet the encryption requirements to connect to DCU Apps.

Please note

ISS are not responsible for issues that might occur when configuring or encrypting personal devices and will only use the wipe functionality once we are requested to by the staff member

Instructions for other versions of windows mobile devices:

Staff Android:

DCU Encryption and Sync Instructions (PDF)

Sync Instructions (online)

Device policy (online)

Staff iPhone:

Encryption Information and Instructions (PDF)

Sync Instructions (online)

 Encryption (Documents for Email) 

Encryption (Documents for Email)

Unencrypted email is not a secure way to transfer sensitive information regardless of the email solution or where that email solution may be hosted (either 'in the cloud' or 'on premises'). DCU's email solution, provided by Google, is not encrypted. Therefore, in common with most commercial email solutions, all data in an unencrypted email can be intercepted as it is sent over the internet.

ISS does not support encryption solutions that encrypt the data held in the header or body of emails as we do not feel that such solutions strike the appropriate security/usability balance for DCU. ISS will continue to monitor all developments within this area and welcomes suggestions and feedback from the DCU community in this regard.

ISS does support the encryption of attachments and we have outlined instructions on how to do this below. If you choose to encrypt attachments please pay particular attention to not including sensitive information in the body of your email.

Never share the encryption password by email even to a different email address. We suggest that you share the password by telephone, in person or by SMS. Please note that ISS will not have access or the ability to retrieve or reset the password you create. You should give consideration to backing up the data you propose to encrypt.

If encrypting attachments by any of the means proposed below is not an option for you, please speak to us and we will be happy to help.

We offer two supported options for encrypting attachments:

  • Compressing the files using '7-Zip' software and encrypting the compressed file. This is possible by using the in-built features of Microsoft Office 2010 and above, available to download from Zenworks.

This article explains how to encrypt and add a password to files in Microsoft Office 2010. This option will not appear in any version older than Office 2010.

The process is consistent across the Microsoft Office suite of products (MS Word 2010, MS Excel 2010, MS PowerPoint 2010 etc.).

How to Encrypt Documents using Microsoft Office 2010 (PDF)

'7-Zip' Compression Software

7z is an archive format, providing high compression ratio. 7-Zip supports encryption with AES-256 algorithm.

The software is available for free download from

How to Encrypt a Zip File using 7-Zip (PDF)

Please remember:Never email the encryption password.

If you forget your password, ISS can neither reset your password nor recover your files.

 Password Policies 

Service Desk - Passwords / Accounts

Unfortunately all of our systems are not yet integrated to use one password but we are working towards this.

Systems Accessed by your main DCU network username and password

Agresso   N/A
Website (Restricted Areas)
 Password Change 

Password Change

How do I change my DCU Network Access Password?

Please visit password change and follow the instructions.

What should I change my password to?

  • Your new password Must Contain a minimum of five characters, and a maximum of 12 characters
  • Your new password is CASE Sensitive
  • When setting your new password ensure the Caps Lock is turned off. 
  • Your new password Should be meaningful enough so you don't forget it.
  • Your new password Should Not be a derivative of the username
  • Be a word found in any dictionary (English or foreign), place names, proper nouns.
  • Your new password Should Not be a dictionary-word (forward or backwards) preceded and/or followed by any other single character (e.g., secret1, 1secret, secret?, secret!)
  • Your new password Should Not contain your first/maiden name, staff number, phone number.
  • Your new password Cannot be a password that you have previously used, by default previous passwords are stored so they cannot be used again.

When choosing a new password using a ‘Strong Password’ is considered best practise.

What is a 'Strong Password'?

You could come up with a completely random combination of numbers and symbols, but that's not very practical. How would you remember it? Chances are you'd write it down and keep it in the top drawer of your desk and then it's no longer such a great password after all.

A strong password is one that is at least eight characters, includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols and is easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess.

Why should I change my password every Ninety days?

    We have an obligation to protect information stored on our computer systems from unauthorised access. We require all Faculty and Staff members to change their password every 90 days. All passwords must be at least five characters in length. Currently we do not enforce strong password complexity, but using a 'Strong Password' is considered 'best practise'.
    The main reason for regular password changes is to limit an account's exposure to misuse. Every time you type in your password it is at risk of being compromised - by someone looking over your shoulder, through interception as it travels across the network, etc. The more you use your password the more opportunities there are for it to be disclosed inadvertently.
    Changing your password regularly reduces the risk of your password being compromised by a 'brute force' attack.
    Resetting regularly also limits the damage that can be done without your knowledge, and helps to prevent continuing unauthorised use.
There are also administrative reasons for enforcing password expiration.
    To enable meeting future requirements regarding enforcing compliance with password complexity within a given timeframe.
    To help identify overactive accounts! (Resetting a password may uncover misuse; it may also identify legitimate but undocumented situations where an account is simultaneously being used by more than one person.)
    With the above considerations in mind, forced expiration of passwords is considered good practice, and policies supporting such action are widely recommended.

What if I forget my password?

    The Service Desk Staff will not be able to reset your password until
    The requester presents themselves in person to the ISS Service Desk, and provide your Staff Card as proof of identity.
    The requesters line manager emails the Service Desk requesting the password to be reset
    The Service Desk staff will assign a new temporary password to you and after a successful login you must change this temporary password or you will lock your account again, you can do this by either method given in outlined above

How long will it take for my new password to become valid?

    When you change your DCU Network password this takes effect immediately. If you change your password via the Portal you will be logged out and will have to re-authenticate using your new password to gain access back into your Portal page.

Can I tell others my password?

    No, if you tell others your password you have given them your Identity, which leaves your account open to ‘misuse’ and if your account is used in an inappropriate manner you may be held accountable for their actions.

What is affected when I change my DCU Network Access password?

    When you change your DCU Network Access password, access to the following will be affected as we use LDAP authentication to gain access to them. The other applications listed use application level authentication.
Not AffectedAffected
  • ITS
  • Core Supervisor
  • Cardax
  • Laptop Encryption
  • DCU Network Login
  • DCU Windows PC Login
  • Email - DCU Apps
  • DCU Apps (Calendar, Documents, Sites)
  • RSS
  • Core
  • Secure Web Pages (Portal, Moodle)
  • Agresso

Users who synchronise their DCU Calendar with a SmartPhone.

    Users who synchronise their DCU Calendar agenda with their SmartPhone will need to change the password which is cached in an encrypted form within the phones account settings.
 Online Safety Checklist 

Online Safety Checklist

  • Don't fall victim of a scam by responding to unexpected emails or text messages and don't click on any links or attachments within them.
  • Make sure that your computer's firewall is active and up to date.
  • Regularly check that your computer's operating system and software is up to date.
  • Always, choose a password and secret answer that you will remember, but will not be easily guessed by anyone else.
  • Secure sites have addresses that start with 'https' and a small padlock icon that appears in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window.
  • When you visit any of our websites type the URL address into your browser. This will ensure you go to the correct site and not a spoof or fraudulent site.
 Online fraud and phishing 

Online fraud and phishing

There has been a steady rise in the volume of phishing attempts, which use fraudulent emails and websites to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, etc. Such attempts are increasingly professional and both the email and website may look entirely genuine, mimicking the trusted brand identity of the organisation involved. Banks, credit card agencies and online services such as AIB, Bank of Ireland, eBay, and Paypal have been targeted.

To protect yourself

  • Do not give out personal information in response to an unsolicited contact, whether by phone, e-mail or other medium
  • Note that responsible organisations will never request such information by email
  • You must be very careful when asked to give out security information such as a password, pin number or security code and be particularly suspicious if too much is asked for: increasingly banks only ask for partial information for example the third, fifth and first digit of a pin
  • Do not be too reassured by the locked padlock icon on your browser: it simply means that the internet transaction is encrypted (and so very difficult to intercept) - not that it is going to the genuine site
  • Although online fraud is increasing, be aware that most credit card fraud is still in restaurants: do not let your card out of your sight
  • Note also that there is a rise in fraud through monitoring personal information at cash machines - do not use a cash machine if you see anything strange about it, there have been incidents where miniature cameras have been used to record pin numbers, while a realistic false front has been installed to record (or "skim") card details
  • Be sure you are going to the correct site by typing the address yourself or by using your own personal bookmark
  • You are recommended to delete the fraudulent message, though if you are particularly concerned, do feel free to report the matter, but do not attempt to engage in correspondence with the sender
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is not true, particularly if it is the promise of money from a lottery you have not entered or money for handling a large sum for somebody you have never met


Phishing is a fraudulent activity designed to trick you in to giving out your login details. Fraudsters can then use this information to log in to your account and steal information

Identifying a phishing email

  • Be suspicious of any requests for personal or financial information.  We will never ask you to confirm your bank details or login information by email.
  • 'Dear Student' - phishing emails are usually sent out in bulk and therefore are unlikely to contain your first name or surname
  • Check the quality of the communication.  Misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.
  • 'Failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed' these types of messages are designed to convey a sense of urgency to prompt a quick response.

Protect your computer

Any computer connected to the internet is vulnerable to malware; viruses, trojans or spyware.

Viruses and Trojans

  • Viruses are harmful programs that disturb the way computers work. They come in many forms and can be attached to emails, disguised as innocent looking programs and documents, or spread by infected websites.
  • Viruses will try to either collect information about you and send it on to an unauthorised third party or damage your computer by removing important files or altering data.
  • Trojans can detect passwords when you log into a website and credit card details when you shop online. Some advanced Trojans can direct you to fake pages or a spoofed website, tricking you into disclosing sensitive information.
  • If your computer is affected by malware your personal and financial information could be easily compromised. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that the information on your computer is safe.

Install anti-malware software

  • Good anti-malware software will scan your incoming emails, the websites you visit and files you open, for known viruses.
  • New viruses are discovered daily, so it is important that you set your anti-malware software to update at least every 2 or 3 days.

Turn on your Firewall

  • A firewall is an essential barrier between your computer and the internet, preventing anyone connecting to your computer without your permission. Most computers have inbuilt firewalls that will alert you if they are not turned on. There are other firewall products that can be downloaded and some will come as part of an antivirus package.
  • Make sure your computer has a firewall installed and that it is always turned on.

Keep your operating system up to date

  • Malware can be made to target security loopholes and flaws in your operating system and the software it runs.
  • Most operating systems and software have an option to automatically check for updates when you connect to the internet; make sure this is turned on.
  • Other software you use can be updated by checking the manufacturer's website.
 Protect your wireless network 

Protect your wireless network

The wireless router which is used to connect your computer to the internet is the most common device that can be targeted by hackers to steal personal information from your computer. We don't advise using Wi-Fi hot spots to access your account. If you use a Wi-Fi network at home, make sure that it is secure.

Keep your mobile device up to date

If you are accessing your account using a smartphone or tablet device, always make sure that your device's firmware, operating system and apps are up to date.


Tips for choosing a password

  • Don't use something that people can easily guess about you eg. your name, date of birth, or the town you are from
  • Always use a mixture of characters; letters and numbers
  • Don't use the same password for different accounts
  • Change your password regularly

Protect your identity

  • Destroy all unwanted paperwork
  • Keep valuable documents in a secure place
  • Don't fall victim of a scam by responding to unexpected emails or text messages and don't click on any links or attachments within them
 Website security 

Website security

  • When you log in your online account is protected by a secure encryption to keep your information safe. Our secure sites have addresses that start with 'https' and a small padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window.
  • Double click the padlock symbol to view information confirming that the site is genuine.
  • Always log out of our site when you have finished using it, and close the browser window. This ensures that your user session is closed properly.
  • We recommend that when you visit any of our websites that you type the URL address into your browser. This ensures you are going to the correct site and not a spoof or fraudulent site.
 Social networking 

Social networking

The nature of social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter can create security risks. It is important to remain cautious when using them.

  • Always create strong passwords for online accounts and update them regularly on social media sites. Longer passwords (8-10 characters) that contain letters, numbers, and symbols are more secure. Avoid using the same password for multiple social media sites.
  • Be cautious of the information you post publicly such as your Customer Reference Number, address or date of birth. Use the site's privacy settings to limit who can see your personal information and posts.
  • Be careful who you befriend. You put yourself at risk by not taking the time to filter who you accept into your inner circle. Friend requests can be used by social bots to hack your network and by phishers trying to steal your personal information.
  • Stay up to date with changes to your social network's settings as small changes can cause big problems. If a site decides to changes it's privacy settings or policy this could leave your personal details more publicly available than they had been previously.
  • Review your social media profiles. Always consider how others may view the information you provide about yourself, your family and your friends and remember that social media sites are public resources.
  • Don't fall victim of a scam by responding to unexpected emails or text messages and don't click on any links or attachments within them.
  • Make sure that your computer's firewall is active and up to date.
  • Regularly check that your computer's operating system and software is up to date.
  • Always, choose a password and secret answer that you will remember, but will not be easily guessed by anyone else.
  • Secure sites have addresses that start with 'https' and a small padlock icon that appears in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window.
  • When you visit any of our websites type the URL address into your browser. This will ensure you go to the correct site and not a spoof or fraudulent site.
 ICT Policies 

ICT Policies

The University provides ICT systems and services to support students and staff in fulfilling the requirements of their course, research or role.  All users of ICT systems or services provided by the University should be familiar with and abide by the following policies:

Click here to view ICT Policies and Guidelines