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Computer Security @ MSRI

We do everything we can to ensure that the integrity of our network and its data is not compromised. Our servers are in locked, secured rooms, our network sits behind a firewall and we monitor the traffic that flows on our network.

However, security does not begin and end with us. It involves you too. Here are a few things each user can do to protect personal files and prevent unauthorized access from occurring:

  • Select a good password - faulty passwords are by far one of the worst offenders in causing unauthorized breakins.
  • Do not share your account - if you have a colleague or family member visiting with you for the day who would like access to our systems, please let us know and we will grant access to an authorized account.
  • Do not write your password down - chances are you will leave the paper somewhere and still won't be able to remember it. Just pick a password you won't forget and make it alphanumeric. This also means that you must change your password from the randomized one we assign to you when you first arrive.
  • Be aware of e-mail scams and attacks - The MSRI Computing staff will never e-mail you requesting your password or send you attachments with "new account information". Do not open such attachments or give your password to anyone claiming to be a member of our staff. Your MSRI account is as susceptible to such phishing attacks as any other computer account [e.g. from your home institution, PayPal, online banking, etc.]--please be wary of this when reading MSRI e-mail.
  • Don't leave your account logged in - Do not leave your session logged on if you are using one of our systems in the labs or library. As we ask that you do not lock the screen with utilities such as xlock, you should log off if you will be gone for any length of time. If, however, you are working in your office, the choice to lock your screen is up to you.
  • Keep your private files private - Understand how to use chmod to set permissions on your personal files and directories, thereby regulating others' access to them

Using good judgement is the key. Many people flow in and out of MSRI, especially during workshop periods. If you happen to notice anything suspicious, please notify a member of our staff.