July News from Information Security

Welcome to the start of the 2021-2022 fiscal year! You’ve probably been scrambling over the past few days to get all those “end of the year” things completed. I know I have. Just because the “new year” is starting doesn’t mean that we aren’t already in full swing with many summer initiatives, including the Governor’s Honors Program, preparing for the fall semester, hosting camps, and just getting those things that must be done outside of the two main semesters done. This being the start of July, the Independence Day holiday approaches as I write this newsletter, but by the time most of you read it, the day will have passed, so I hope you all had a fun, safe, and meaningful time celebrating.

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June News from Information Security

Please check the end of this article for a very late breaking notice about Amazon devices!

With the arrival of June, summer is in full swing. Welcome to the time when everyone else thinks we as a college community have it easy, when we all know that is NEVER the case. Summer is always busy, busy, busy on all fronts, but I’m preaching to the choir here. Between projects, recruitment, alumni events, college-hosted events and yes, even classes, everyone has their hands full, which makes us all prime targets of phishers and scammers.

“You say that every month!” you say. Yes, I admit I do, but I always have a new or forcibly recycled reason for why we are prime targets. I have both this time.

Continue readingJune News from Information Security”

May News from Information Security

May has arrived and if you are like me you are gearing up for summer while trying to finish up the semester. This frantic time of finals, final papers, showcases, productions, graduation, and all other manner of “showing your work” is in full swing. Good luck to everyone, whether you are taking tests, giving tests, grading tests, or something else. I know everyone is ready for a change. A change of season brings a change in many other things, including information technology and security. I have a couple of changes to pass along to the community, along with the normal warnings and reminders. Let’s get to it!

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April News from Information Security

Welcome to April and all that it means to this community! April is the month before the end of the semester in May. April means it is getting warmer and it’s time, if you haven’t already, to cycle in a new wardrobe of clothes for the fast-moving weeks at the end of the school year. I want to apologize for the tardiness of this newsletter. I was unavoidably out of work for a week due to problems caused by the massive amount rain we received back on March 25th. I know so many of you wait with bated breath for the first day of the month just to read my newsletter, so I apologize for the delay. </sarcasm>

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March News from Information Security

Whew! We made it to March!

While there won’t be some of the typical shenanigans we are used to experiencing in March, like Spring Break (sorry, I had to mention it), there are plenty of things to be aware of. This newsletter may run a little longer than most, as we are “enjoying” the result of a confluence of tax season, potential economic stimulus payments, Zoom meetings, COVID vaccines, plus all the regular stuff. As Maverick from Top Gun would say, this is a “target-rich environment”, except not for potential dates, but for phishing emails.

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February News from Information Security

Welcome to February, the month of Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, World Cancer Day, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, World Day of Social Justice, and many other international, regional, and country-specific days of remembrance and celebration.

This year it is also the time when a new Virtual Scavenger Hunt is launching, sponsored by Information Security and the Office of Information Technology. If you participated in and enjoyed the Virtual Scavenger Hunt back in October for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you will love this one. No need to wait a week for the next set of questions-this scavenger hunt can be completed in an afternoon or evening (or morning, if you prefer).

The Scavenger Hunt will kick off on Monday, February 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day, so it is appropriately named the “Post V-Day Virtual Scavenger Hunt”. The hunt will conclude at noon on Friday, February 19th with a drawing that will determine who will win the four available prizes.

Two winners will be drawn from a pool of names made up of anyone who attempts the scavenger hunt. To qualify for that drawing, you only have to attempt the hunt and submit answers to at least the first day of questions, even if those answers are wrong. For the sake of clarity, I am calling these prizes “runner-up” prizes. They will consist of a collection of college,  OIT, and Information Security branded items along with a generous amount of Valentine’s Day candy.

Two prizes I am calling “grand prizes” will be awarded to two lucky people whose names are drawn from a pool of names of those who successfully complete the scavenger hunt. To qualify, you must complete the hunt by finding all the correct answers to the questions, then complete the form at the end of the hunt. The grand prizes will consist of a package including a super cool and vaguely Berry blue Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook (8.5″ x 11″) with a Frixion pen and microfiber cloth, seven additional Frixion pens in various colors, and a Rocketbook Pen Station pen holder. This notebook is reusable, eco-friendly and can scan your notes directly to a cloud storage provider like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, iCloud and others with the help of an app on your Android or Apple phone. There are lots of available accessories for these notebooks including folio covers, additional pens, and even “Beacons” which will allow you to scan information on a whiteboard  using the same app. Good luck! I will send a reminder about the scavenger hunt on the 15th.

I want to revisit a topic introduced in the January newsletter, which you can read at this link. Our new training platform is ready for use, with several short security awareness courses focusing on single topics like email phishing, other social engineering tactics, data security, passwords, and safe browsing. There is also a longer general security awareness course that incorporates all of these topics, spending substantially less time on each one.

If you would like to have access to this training, just go to the InfoSec News and Alerts site, click on “Latest Posts” in the main menu, then click on the link to the form, which is on the right-hand side of the page. You can also simply click this link to access the form.

If you are depending on Zoom to attend or conduct classes or for work, be sure to check out the Zoom resources provided here for tips and information on how to effectively and safely use Zoom.

If you don’t already have it, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is coming your way. This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. You can request MFA be enabled on your account or wait until you are automatically enrolled in the next few weeks. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.

If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. If you are not into social media, you can also subscribe to get updates via email.

You can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and the events calendar where events will be posted.

Food for Thought

Permanent link to this comic: https://xkcd.com/1016/

Featured Image: Photo by Jason D on Unsplash

January News from Information Security

Welcome to 2021! Let’s hope it goes better than 2020.

Welcome back to campus. I hope everyone had a good holiday, stayed healthy, and is ready to charge through the spring semester. As you attempt to settle back in, I encourage you to take the time to reacquaint yourself with basic information security awareness.

In the fall, the college acquired a new training platform for security awareness. This content on this platform is authored by some of the foremost security experts on the planet. This group, known as the SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security) Institute, is the largest source for training and security certification in the world. They manage the Internet Storm Center, billed as “the Internet’s early warning system”, along with in-depth training and certification.

The new platform provides us with a rich set of training courses, supplemental materials, and course management options. Use of the platform is open to anyone in the active community of students, faculty, and staff. Courses for basic security awareness take about half an hour to complete, with some courses centered around specific topics such as FERPA, HIPAA, or PCI-DSS compliance taking up to an hour. You can request access to the platform by sending an email to infosec@berry.edu and stating you want access to the security awareness platform, or by filling out the training access form found here.

By choosing to take security awareness training, you can help the college fend off attackers, but equally as importantly, you can learn how to protect yourself, your home networks, your devices, and your various Internet accounts. It has never been more important to be aware of the tactics, techniques, and procedures attackers use to try and gain access to your devices and accounts. With COVID-19 came challenges to how we work, socialize, and live life, but along with those challenges came additional, and more potent attacks by the Internet bad guys. Not a day goes by without some phishing email landing in someone’s email inbox, or a text on a phone, or even a voice call, all attempting to separate you from your money, your accounts, and your peace of mind.

Courses on the platform include general security awareness as well as dedicated courses on phishing, account management, safe browsing, passwords and password managers, and device management. Once you are on the platform, you can choose to complete any or all of these courses.

There are also, as mentioned before, courses that target specific compliance and regulation topics. Some of you may be required to take one or more of these courses as part of your job responsibilities. If so, you will be notified via email and be given ample time to complete the training.

The last thought in relation to this topic is this-in an effort to raise the security awareness of the entire community, we are looking to make security awareness training a regular part of everyone’s routine. The frequency of training is being discussed, but it is likely to be conducted at least annually, if not biannually. This is not designed to torture you, or simply add to your workload, but to help you be vigilant, informed and conscientious in your everyday work. The SANS training starts with a module called “You Are The Shield”, emphasizing your role in being the first line of defense against attacks on the college that attempt to bypass our security technology by attacking you directly, via social engineering. We hope that by regularly providing training to you, you will be the shield.

Don’t forget, if you are not currently using multi-factor authentication (MFA), you will be sometime in the spring semester. We are continuing to roll MFA out to everyone on a schedule, but if you want MFA faster, please email computing@berry.edu and inform them you want MFA enabled on your account. You can find more information about MFA here, and you can find information on how to set up MFA in this document.

If you are depending on Zoom to conduct classes or work, be sure to check out the Zoom resources document provided here for tips and information on how to effectively and safely use Zoom.

Finally, Data Privacy Day is January 28th. Data Privacy Day is an international effort to promote the respect of privacy, safeguard data and enable trust. According to Stay Safe Online, a project of the National CyberSecurity Alliance,

Millions of people are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected or shared in our digital society. Data Privacy Day aims to inspire dialogue and empower individuals and companies to take action.

What action? The first and foremost goal is to manage your privacy and security settings for all your accounts. This page, on the staysafeonline.org site shows you how to manage your settings on many popular devices, accounts, and services. Go there first to secure your accounts and devices, then share the link with your family and friends so they can do the same.

As you are securing your accounts, if you notice any settings that you feel should be different or default to safer values, let that website or service know. There is little incentive for these companies to change their practices if no one complains about them. There should be a contact form on most sites, but if not, sending to support@whatever.site will usually get your feedback to the right place. Be sure to use the correct site address, i.e. support@facebook.com for Facebook.

Also on Data Privacy Day, which is a Thursday, I will be offering a lunchtime training event via Zoom which will cover passwords and password managers. Having a strong and unique password for every account you have is the first step in securing your data and making sure it stays private. You can sign up for the class by going to the Events calendar on this site and clicking on the event on January 28th. There will be a sign up/RSVP (Going) button once you open the event.

Look for a new Virtual Scavenger Hunt in February. It will run the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. The grand prize will be…somewhat Valentine’s Day themed. More details in the February newsletter.

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.
If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me.


Food for Thought

Featured Image: Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Cartoon courtesy of XKCD.com

Permalink for cartoon https://xkcd.com/2391/