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/

December News from Information Security

Welcome to one of the strangest Decembers we’ve ever had here at Berry. It is certainly the strangest of my 30 years here. The students are gone, but not done. Finals loom for some of them, then almost two full months of no school. What will we do in the silence?

I’m sure we all have different answers to that question, so I’ll leave it hanging rhetorically.

This newsletter will be a little different from previous ones. We’ll be focusing on a minimal number of topics, but for one in particular I will ask for a couple of extra minutes of reading time from you.

If you have perused this site much you will know that I post breach and data exposure announcements here periodically, usually when they affect a good number of the community. If you’ve been unlucky enough to be impacted by a breach, you may have received an email from me explaining what data was exposed and what you should do about it.

A recent notification came to me, announcing that 189 emails belonging to Berry community members had information exposed, specifically passwords. Most breaches affect no more than a couple dozen Berry email addresses and when I get the notices I will sort through them, compose an email and send it out to those affected. This number of emails was larger, but still manageable. Then I read further into the announcement. Those 189 emails were scattered across more than 23,000 potential websites and services. The data did not include enough information to determine which email address went with what service or website.

The bottom line is, 189 Berry community members, who could be faculty, staff, students, alumni, or even retirees, have had a password for some service exposed. You can find out if you were one of these 189 by going to the Have I Been Pwned website and putting in your Berry email address in the search form.

You may find that in addition to this massive exposure notification containing 226 million unique emails, named Cit0day, you may have had information related to your Berry email address exposed by other data breaches. I encourage you to not only check your Berry email, but your personal email accounts as well, and those of your family if you are so inclined. I also strongly encourage you to sign up for notifications from Have I Been Pwned. The link (Notify Me) is at the top of the main page there. It is free and if your email address shows up in a data breach, you’ll get an email notification directly from Have I Been Pwned giving you as much information about the breach as is available.

The important question, once you determine that you are indeed affected by a data breach is this – What do I do now?

Generally, I will suggest you change your password for the service or website that experienced the breach, check that your account information is correct, and if financial data was involved, to closely monitor your bank account and credit card accounts. In the case of the Cit0day notification, you will have no idea which of your twenty to one hundred or more accounts has been affected. What do you do then?

The “nuke the site from orbit” approach would be to reset the password on EVERY account you have. Do you even know all of your accounts? Who hasn’t signed up on a site for a specific purpose, never to return? What data might you have had to give up to create that account? Did it include a credit/debit card number or bank account number?

The real question to ask at this time, if you are affected by the Cit0day announcement is – Did I reuse the password for this account, whatever account it was? Realizing, again, that there is no way to tell what specific service or website exposed the password.

That question leads to the next – How many other accounts are now vulnerable because I reused this exposed password? The scary part is, you don’t have an answer to this question, because you don’t know what account is compromised.

Which leads to the most important question in this article – Why are you not using a password manager to create a unique password for EVERY account, service, and website you use?  Yes, it takes time to set it up.  For some, time is money, right? How much does thirty minutes cost you? The entire amount in your bank account? Unlikely. The maximum amount on your credit line? Probably not.

If you had used a password manager to create a unique password for your account on whichever site among the 23,000 possible  ones that were affected , the potential damage to you would have been limited to that one site. If you reused a password, or worse, use the same password for everything, then the damage could be much greater.

Please, if you are not using a password manager now to manage your accounts, start using one. I’ve written on the subject multiple times here in the monthly newsletter and during Cybersecurity Awareness Months, both this year and in years past (all of which are available from the main menu of this site).

Take a few minutes and visit the links below. Check out the flyer linked at the Quick Info page for some password managers. If you don’t want to follow links,  just type “best password manager” into your favorite search engine. There are password managers for all platforms (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, web browsers), needs, and budgets.

Quick Info page on Password Managers

In-depth knowledge article on password managers on this site

Why you need a password manager flyer (PDF)

Two-sided password flyer linked in the Quick Info page above (PDF)

Good password policies flyer with a paragraph at the bottom about password managers (PDF) Don’t try to use the link at the bottom, it is broken.

Because the link in the above PDF is broken, here is a link to a great article on password managers-the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. My apologies for the pop-up ads, but the article is worth the annoyance. If you read nothing else, read this article.

Whew! That was password managers. The next and final item I want to emphasize in this newsletter is multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA is coming to all accounts at Berry – faculty, staff, and students. With some personnel issues that have come up, the rollout may be delayed a bit, but it is still coming.

Again, I have written about this multiple times over the course of maintaining this site. There is a Quick Info page on MFA for the impatient, or you can go read the instructions for setting up MFA here on the main Berry website. If you are still unclear about why we are requiring this, check out this FAQ article, also on the main Berry website.

You can still request MFA for your account by emailing computing@berry.edu.

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 Science in HD on Unsplash

November News from Information Security

We did it! We made it through October and Cybersecurity Awareness Month. I want to thank everyone who read the weekly articles, checked out the posters, and participated in the Virtual Scavenger Hunt. I want to congratulate Hanna Popa for her successful completion of the hunt and her luck in winning the Monster Clarity 102 AirLinks ear buds. She was one of the eight who completed the entire hunt out of the thirty-three who attempted some part of it.

If you enjoyed the hunt, or you missed it, but heard great things about it and wished that you had participated AND would like us to hold another one, just email infosec@berry.edu and tell us. While you’re at it let us know what information security topics you would like to see addressed here in articles or quick tips or even live (via Zoom for now) training sessions.

Speaking of live training, here in November there will be another opportunity to attend (via Zoom) live one-hour-ish lunchtime training on account management, covering everything from picking good passwords to using password managers, to enabling multi-factor authentication on all your accounts, particularly your Berry account. The event will be posted to the Event Calendar this week, once a final decision is made on the exact date, so check it out and sign up.

Our primary topic for this month is multi-factor authentication or MFA. MFA is now required for all Berry accounts and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is rolling it out in phases. You will receive, if you haven’t already, an email detailing when MFA will be enabled on your account and how to set it up. The Network Operations group is holding training on MFA setup via Zoom, so if you have issues with the setup, be sure to attend. Details should be in the email you receive.

Why are we requiring MFA? You could potentially blame it on the corona-virus or COVID-19, but our attempts to require MFA have been in the works for many months before the virus hit our community. MFA places another layer of security on your Berry account, preventing someone who guesses or steals your password from accessing your account. It does this by requiring a second piece of evidence or a second “factor” in addition to your password to prove that you are you. That factor could be a fingerprint, or a temporary six-digit code texted to you or found in an app on your smartphone. In our case, the default second factor is just an approval via an app on your smartphone.

With MFA enabled, when you log in to your account, you will be required to enter your password, then a notification will pop up on your phone asking you to “approve” or “deny” the login request. You just touch “approve” if you are attempting to log in, or “deny” if you see a request when you haven’t tried to log in to your account. Without this second factor, the approval, or if you deny the login attempt, the login fails and the incident is logged so OIT can follow up and mitigate any potential threat to your account. This protects not just your email, but any web-based service you use here at Berry, from VikingWeb to the financial aid portal to the health center portal, so it is vital MFA is enabled on your account.

We’ve mentioned Zoom twice already in this newsletter, and we’re going to circle back to it now. One of the most critical aspects of using Zoom effectively is securing your Zoom sessions from “zoombombers” and others that wish to disrupt sessions. We depend on Zoom far too much these days, so we want to offer some information about how to properly secure your Zoom sessions.

Here is a Zoom document that discusses most of the security settings for Zoom. Don’t be daunted by the fact it is twelve pages long, there are pictures and cover pages and large type galore. Here are the high points, in a simple list:

      • Use the waiting room feature if your meeting is not too large. This lets you control who actually gets into the meeting, albeit manually.
      • Use a passcode for all meetings and use randomly generated meeting IDs, NOT your personal meeting ID.
      • Only allow registered users to attend. Be careful with this setting, but it is useful if done correctly.
      • Lock your meeting. Once everyone who is supposed to attend has arrived, you can lock the meeting to prevent anyone else from joining.
      • Know how to manage users during the meeting. Understand the settings to control screen sharing, mute everyone, remove participants, and configure chat and annotation to prevent abuse.

Our current environment can prove difficult to navigate at times, but making sure you know how to manage a Zoom session will go a long way to make sessions requiring Zoom effective and secure.

One last thing before we wrap up. I want to encourage you to report ALL phishing emails you receive, using the “Report Email as Phishing” button available in the email browser interface (https://mail.berry.edu), on mobile devices using the official Outlook mobile client, and on the desktop using Outlook 2016 (Click-to-run version only) or Outlook 2019 (all versions). Doing so will help OIT protect the community by mitigating dangerous phishing emails identified by you, our first line of defense against phishing.

I normally wrap up the newsletters with a pitch for you to sign up for MFA, and I still encourage you to do so, but if you don’t, understand you will be required to use MFA at some point in the next few weeks. If you’d like to get ahead of the curve, request MFA for your account by emailing computing@berry.edu.
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.

Photo Credit: Photo by Plann on Unsplash

October News from Information Security

October is here! Did you know there are 190 official and unofficial “days” in October? I know, there are only 31 actual days, but many days are workhorses, serving as “the day” for multiple celebrations, from National Pumpkin Day to World Animal Day to the International Day of Non-violence. More immediately on many of our minds here at Berry, Mountain Day is around the corner, along with long-sleeve weather. October is also the height of “pumpkin spice everything”, and…Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

Yes, it’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Let’s just call it CAM. It used to be called National Cyber Security Awareness Month or NCSAM, but it is observed internationally now. You can find out about our planned topics on the CAM 2020 page. There will be weekly articles as well as a month-long virtual scavenger hunt…and prizes…and candy…and learning! Head over to the CAM 2020 page to check it out after you finish reading this article. Come on, stay focused here! There will be another link at the bottom of the page.

As already mentioned, look for weekly articles on various security awareness topics posted right here each Monday of October. They, along with the security awareness posters on all the residence hall bulletin boards and in Krannert, will be essential to completing the scavenger hunt. You might be asking yourself, why burn 5-10 minutes of time each week in October tracking down scavenger hunt items? Because everyone who completes the scavenger hunt will be eligible for a drawing for the grand prize of a pair of Monster Isport Ear Buds Monster Clarity 102 AirLinks Wireless Ear Buds

As a part of CAM, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is strongly urging everyone to sign up for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for their Berry account (and all other accounts you have, but we are particularly concerned with your Berry account). MFA brings another level of security to your account and can protect you if the password for your Berry account is exposed. The setup is easy, and you’ll be able to keep your Berry account password for an entire year, assuming it does not get exposed. Email computing@berry.edu and let them know you want MFA. MFA will be required for all current students, faculty, and staff soon, so you should beat the rush and get signed up now!

In addition to encouraging everyone to sign up for MFA, OIT is also encouraging everyone to sign up for security awareness training. OIT is implementing a brand new security training platform and we want as many as possible to experience the new system. While we will continue to focus on specific training for now, we are looking to expand the system to accommodate everyone as soon as we can. More details will be provided, either in one of the CAM 2020 weekly emails or the November monthly newsletter.

There are other ways to participate in training. You can attend a one hour, Zoom-based, focused training on phishing emails or passwords and password managers, or request one-on-one training on a particular topic. Since the theme for CAM is “Do Your Part – #BeCyberSmart” we encourage you to develop your cybersecurity “smarts” in whatever way fits your schedule and goals.

If, after reading the CAM2020 page and looking over the rest of the website, you think 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, and the calendar where events will be posted and you can register for these events.

The Berry CAM2020 page

Go directly to the scavenger hunt page!   This link will not be active until Monday October 5th,  2020, at 8:00AM

Upcoming Events

 

 

 

 

Featured Image: Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

September News From Information Security

September already!?!?

Hard to believe, but this entire year has been hard to believe, so why should anything change now? Lots of things to pass along to all of you in this newsletter, from mandated notifications to announcements of new and returning resources, to the upcoming Cyber-Security Awareness Month.

By far, the most important item is the reminder that downloading or distributing copyrighted material, including through peer-to-peer file sharing applications, without the permission of the copyright owner is against the law. Illegal downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials can result in your being prosecuted in criminal court and/or sued for damages in civil court. Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. If sued in civil court, you may be responsible for monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and civil penalties up to $150,000 per work distributed.

Use of Berry’s resources for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials is forbidden. The College prohibits illegal copyright infringement through its Acceptable Use Policy. You are required to adhere to all college policies including those that relate to copyrights and fair use. This information is posted on the Berry website at https://berry.edu/policies/ . The Memorial Library has an excellent resource: http://libguides.berry.edu/copyright

There are many legal sources available for copyrighted material such as music, movies, and TV shows. Some are free and some charge a nominal fee. We’ve all grown VERY aware of the possibilities over the last few months, at least those of us who were required to isolate ourselves or who did so voluntarily in response to the coronavirus. Please be responsible in your use of copyrighted materials.

Whew!

With that out of the way here are a couple of new resources from Information Security. While we won’t get to meet and chat in Krannert for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean Information Security is taking a break. The cyber-criminals definitely don’t.

On this site in the next few days you will see a new item in the main menu. The Berry College “Phishbowl” will feature past and current phishing emails curated from submitted emails from Berry faculty, staff, and students. All emails have been anonymized, unless they came to a non-personal account like “Financial Aid” (one of the phishers favorite targets).

You’ll be able to see a variety of phishing emails, with commentary on the various indicators that betray it as a phishing email. Eventually, you’ll be able to sort and filter emails based on type, i.e., sextortion emails versus financial fraud versus fake notifications (this capability is still “under construction”). I hope seeing these emails with their tell-tale indicators will help you be able to spot a phishing email and not get caught in the future.

Another new resource is a twist on an old resource. Last year, I held a series of lunchtime training opportunities I affectionately called “LunchITS”. Well…that’s not gonna happen this year, at least for a while, so I am launching a new opportunity for one-hour training sessions via Zoom. I hope to hold the first one mid-September, then have them regularly, every other week or so, through the end of the semester.

Topics will include old standbys like phishing and account management, to new sessions with more narrowly focused topics like how to effectively and easily use a password manager, or how to choose and safely use Internet of Things (IoT) devices like “smart” coffee pots and home automation equipment. Sessions will be repeated throughout the semester, so I hope you get the opportunity to attend one. Details will be posted on this site as general posts and to the events calendar hosted here, when it returns. Check back for more info, or if you are part of a club, office, department, or other group and want to get customized “in-person” (via Zoom, of course) training, just let me know. Check the About page for my contact information.

With this being September, as mentioned before, that means that next month is October, which is Cyber-Security Awareness Month! There will be weekly posts on the nationally chosen topics, plus, in lieu of a table in Krannert every week, there will be a weekly competition, culminating in a grand prize drawing for some exciting prizes. More details will be posted here on this site throughout September, so check back for more info.

In addition to details about the October fun, there will continue to be warnings posted about current phishing emails, breach notifications, and other information security events that could affect you, so bookmark the beautiful new front page and check back often.

Now for the usual reminders (or for those who have never been here before, some important information you should definitely read).

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? 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. 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. 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, and the events calendar, once it makes its triumphant return.

Thanks for persevering to the end of this rather long newsletter!

Photo Credit: No Piracy billboard by Descrier (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/faTECf

August News from Information Security

Welcome to the intentionally delayed August Information Security newsletter. I wanted to release this in conjunction with everyone returning to campus. First I want to welcome all our new faculty, staff and students as we begin this most interesting journey into the fall semester. I also want to welcome all the returning faculty, staff, and students who have been in various ways preparing feverishly (uh, maybe that’s not a good metaphor) striving earnestly for the start of classes.

You all have been inundated with safety information in relation to the coronavirus, COVID-19, or whatever name you want to use (I will simply use “virus” in this newsletter) to describe the virus that has upended our lives in such a profound way. I hate to be one to pile on, but in addition to the virus itself, all kinds of bad actors are afoot attempting to fool you into clicking on malicious links, submitting sensitive information, even giving up your passwords, many of them preying on the chaos caused by the virus. Please be extremely vigilant with any unexpected emails, and treat all email, at this point, with caution.

Internet criminals have no qualms about using any leverage they can to trick you. One of the latest ploys involved criminals spoofing the Small Business Administration loan relief website to try and steal information from you. Fake websites with false information about cures for the virus and government relief programs are rampant. Be very careful surfin’ the net out there.

I have some news concerning the InfoSec News and Information site (this site you are reading this article on). For the new folks (and even for returning folks who have never visited the site before), this site has a brand new look and feel. The style has moved from looking like a website from the early 2000s to now looking at least “2017ish”. I hope you like the new format and the easier navigation.

A downside to all this progress is that the transition has left the site without an events calendar, at least temporarily. I am looking for a new one and hope to get that squared away soon. Events will necessarily look a lot different for a while, but I hope to conduct some LunchITS training sessions this semester, via Zoom, of course, and I will continue to create and share new security awareness training videos. Keep checking back to see when the new events calendar shows up.

Also coming soon to the site is a “phishbowl” where you will be able to view examples of phishing emails so you can know what to look out for and also see just how desperate some people are to try and scam you. This should debut in the next week or so and will be accessible from the main page of the site.

I will, of course, continue to post warnings about phishing emails and notices about other information security topics. It will all be accessible here on the site, so bookmark it and check it regularly.

Here are some reminders (or “new information” for some of you)…

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? 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. 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. 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, and (eventually) the events calendar will return, where events like LunchITS training sessions and other opportunities can be found.

 

 

 

July News from Information Security

Well, 2020 has been a trip so far, wouldn’t you agree?

“Trip” might be an understatement. It’s as if our lives are as jumbled and chaotic as this pile of puzzle pieces. Nothing seems to make sense, or have any clarity whatsoever. Between the corona-virus, murder hornets, protests (and riots), cancel culture, and for extra flavor, all during an election year, I know many of you are weary and yearn for some good news.

This post is not that…I’m sorry.

We’ve been bombarded by all kinds of phishing emails. Thanks, again, to everyone who reports these and to those who simply delete them and move on. There’s no relief in sight for these. We will continue to be sent fake personal assistant jobs, fake upgrade notifications, fake meeting notifications, fake emails about ‘favors” and “urgent requests”, fake shared document notifications, and more. Please be vigilant, informed, and conscientious in handling your email.

One particular type of phishing email that has popped up recently (again) is one where a phisher uses old emails from a compromised account to attempt to get users to click on a link leading to a “report” or “project update” or other some important document. From your perspective, you see a familiar subject line in an email, potentially coming from a valid and known address, but in the body of the message, there is a sentence about an updated report or some other document that has nothing to do with the original email. It usually has a convenient link provided to view it. Don’t click the link! If you have any thought that it might be valid, contact the sender to confirm they sent it.

The other type of phishing email that was popular for a couple of days was the fake shared document notification. The email purported to be from a colleague, but the actual From address was not a Berry address. Also, the document was shared on some other cloud storage system other than OneDrive. Documents related to college business and activities should never be put on any other cloud storage service other than OneDrive. Be very careful with shared document notifications…always verify with the purported sender.

Email is also the subject of my next warning. During the early days of the corona-virus meltdown, many companies bought up vast amounts of protective gear, especially masks, gloves, and other disposable personal protective equipment (PPE). Some of these companies are now holding large quantities of PPE in stock and realizing they need to get rid of at least a portion of it. We have already seen some spam emails offering PPE and we will probably see more. You can either simply delete these emails or you can flag them as spam using the tools in Outlook. While I don’t mind them being reported via the “Report Email as Phishing” button, many technically aren’t phishing as much as simple spam. With that said, don’t hesitate to report any that you feel are more than just unsolicited commercial emails.

How to flag an email as spam? In Outlook, with the spam email open, there is a button on the left-hand side of the menu bar that lets you block the sender. It looks like a person with the red “circle-with-a-backslash” symbol (officially the “general prohibition sign”). The first option is “Block Sender” which will block the sender and send the email to the Junk folder.

One last thing. I’ve typed “Report Email as Phishing” more times that I want to count, and all the “cool colleges” have a nifty acronym for their phishing reporting tool, so I’ve decided we should also have one. Therefore, from now on, the “Report Email as Phishing” button will be referred to as the “REaP” button (capitalization/non-capitalization is intentional), which I think is fitting, as it allows us to “reap” phishing emails from our system. Yes, I know “reaping” generally means harvesting or gathering useful or good things, not dangerous emails, but the base action is fundamentally the same. Right? I’m glad you agree. Whew, that will save me twenty characters of typing per instance moving forward!

Be on the lookout for an announcement concerning the official opening of the Berry Information Security Phishbowl, or simply, the Phishbowl. I WILL NOT be using an acronym for that, thanks to the Urban Dictionary.

Here goes the usual reminders…

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? 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. 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. 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, and the events calendar where events like tables in Krannert and LunchITS will be posted (someday when the corona-virus crisis has passed…).

Photo Credit: Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash