It's Cybersecurity Month: Get the WWU training you need to avoid online attacks

October is National Cybersecurity Month!

COVID has forced us into a reality we could not have imagined just a year ago. So much of our existence is online, and now it is more important than ever that we protect our data and privacy online. Western’s Information Security Office is here with some help to keep you safe.

Web browsing, email, online chat and social media… most of us engage with these technologies every day for both pleasure and necessity. They engage us with society but expose us to dangers. Sometimes we see those dangers and recognize fraudsters, and other times we fall prey to criminal operations. Many of us have experienced or know someone who has had credentials, or—worse yet—their identity stolen. We all know about workstation infections, ransomware attacks, and those annoying extortion calls. Don’t fret, you can fight back! The key to protecting yourself is an education in security basics.

Sometimes the advice on staying safe online can be overwhelming. Let’s keep it simple with a few important to-dos. Try these simple rules:

  • Use different passwords on different sites. Criminals are smart. Once they have stolen your username and password on one site, they will try using the same credentials on other sites. Maybe a hacker stole usernames and passwords from a fitness app. If you used the same credentials for your bank account, ouch!
  • Store and share your valuable data safely. For example, Western’s Office 365 environment (Email, OneDrive, Teams, SharePoint, etc.) is encrypted, highly available, securely backed up, and monitored for malicious activity. You can even send encrypted emails to external addresses!
  • Be suspicious of links to websites from unknown vendors or individuals. Do NOT click on these links. These links may come from emails, ads embedded in websites and social media, and even posts from your friends’ social media. One click and you might find yourself with a workstation infection or a ransomware attack.
  • Many job “opportunities” are scams. Western users receive many unsolicited emails from strangers wanting to hire someone. Many of these are scams. Never agree to work for someone without meeting them, and never give them money. They should be paying you!
  • Never respond to any request involving money or gift cards. Even if a request appears to be from someone you know, don’t immediately act. Pick up the phone, and verify it is real.
  • Never click on a link to change your password. If you receive a message to change your password, open a web browser yourself and go directly to the site to change your password. Do not use a link provided in an email.

Now, to really fight back against cyber criminals, an hour of education will go a long way. Western’s Information Security Office has developed an Information Security Awareness training opportunity for all Western community members. Beth Albertson, the Director of Information Security, sums up the goals of the course as “improving the information security computing habits of Western community members and helping them recognize common dangers.” Click on the link above or go to wwu.instructure.com/enroll/T79PCB to register or find out more!

 

 

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Monday, October 4, 2021 - 8:49am

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