August News From Information Security

It’s August! Classes begin in just a few short weeks. This month’s newsletter is about staying safe online and covers a number of different topics, but first, here are some reminders and notices of things to come right here on campus.

Security awareness posters will return next week. On Tuesday, August 6th, departmental security awareness posters will be distributed. In September, both departmental and student posters will be distributed around the campus. There will be a chance to win a prize in September, so be sure to stay tuned.

The first LunchITS lunch-time training session was held on Thursday, August 1st. There will be more of these as the semester begins and all through the coming academic year. These lunch hour sessions cover various security awareness topics. The first topic was account security and it covered passwords, password managers, and multi-factor authentication. For those who couldn’t attend, it will be repeated during the fall semester, so there will be another chance to get this training.

Please consider requesting multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your Berry account and also consider using it for any other accounts you have that support it. It is easy to get MFA; just email and request it be enabled. You will also get information on how to set up and use it.

Many departments will be required to complete security awareness training related to the applicable laws, regulations, and constraints associated with their primary job responsibilities. You will be notified via email if you are required to take this training.

Please continue reading for tips on how to stay safe online.


Americans use 3,138,420 GB of internet data every minute of the day. It is safe to say that being online is now a way of life for many. Engaging in safe and secure online practices helps protect against the risks of living life on the internet.

Shopping, surfing, banking, gaming, and connecting Internet of Things devices such as toasters and refrigerators are some of the many actions performed each minute in cyberspace. These common everyday activities carry the cyber threats of social engineering to gain unauthorized access to data, identity theft, bullying, location tracking, and phishing, to name just a few. How can we decrease our risk from these cyber threats without abandoning our online activities altogether? Here are some basic online tips everyone can follow to help stay secure while online.

  • Set up alerts. Consider setting up alerts on your financial accounts. Many credit card companies and banks allow you to set up alerts on your accounts via their websites. These alerts range from sending you an email or text each time a transaction happens on your account to alerts when transactions meet or exceed a designated spending limit that you set. These alerts keep you in control of your accounts’ activities. These types of alerts are useful because they make you aware of what’s going on with your account quicker than waiting for monthly statements. When you receive an alert about a transaction that you did not authorize, you can reach out to the credit card company or bank immediately. Log into your credit card company and banking websites to set up alerts on your accounts.
  • Keep devices and apps up to date. This familiar tip is useful even if you are just casually surfing the internet. Keeping your devices up to date (including apps and operating systems) ensures you have the latest security fixes.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi. In addition to an updated device, the network the device is connected to is also important. Did you have to enter a password to connect to a Wi-Fi network? If you did, that network is more secure than an open one that any device within range can connect to. Whenever possible, use a secure network, especially when banking or shopping online.
  • Consider using a VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network, and its main purpose is to provide a tunnel for encrypted internet traffic. If you are connected to the internet without using a VPN, your traffic is passed through the internet service provider’s servers. The location of your device is known, and if you must connect to a public Wi-Fi network, there is a risk of snooping by other devices on the same network. Connecting to a VPN redirects your internet traffic to a remote server, encrypting the traffic, reducing the snooping risk. There are many options for VPN software today for consumers and businesses. Do your research and decide which one makes sense for your online needs.
  • Create unique passwords. Here’s another familiar tip. Using the same password for many sites is not a best practice. Suppose that one of your accounts suffered a data breach and your password was exposed. If you reused this password on other accounts, it’s likely that someone would be able to access those accounts as well (especially if your user name is an email address). Consider using a password manager to manage all your passwords. Not only do these tools manage all your passwords, they can also create strong passwords and can even autofill your username and password as you go to websites on different browsers.
  • Be vigilant. Be aware, there are fake websites out there waiting to collect your valuable information. Make sure you are on a legitimate site by double-checking the URL website address to make sure it is spelled correctly. Also make sure you see a padlock and https:// in the URL.

Remember that you are in control of your online activities. Following these security tips will give you peace of mind while online.

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