National Cyber Security Awareness Month observed by IT department

The Marshall University Information Technology department is participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month for the month of October to raise awareness to the university concerning matters of cyber security.

Jon Cutler, chief information security officer for the Marshall IT department, said many students conduct much of their daily lives now on their phones and mobile devices, so it is important for students to always be aware.

“The reality is there is hardly a week that goes by that there is not somebody, whether it’s a student or employee, that is affected by hacking or cybercrime,” Cutler said. “Unfortunately, these threats aren’t going away; bad guys are attempting to steal your passwords and banking information and each of us have a role to play in limiting the access.”

Cutler said cyber criminals are continually improving their crafts and finding new ways to attack networks and systems, and one of the things students can do is “Stop. Think. Connect.”

“Stop. Think. Connect.” is one of the common themes of cyber security that has been going on for several years. Students can take these three steps to protect themselves on the internet.

“For example, you receive an email from Apple saying you need to change your password; stop and look at the message,” Cutler said. “See if it really came from Apple, or is it coming from something else but it just says it’s from Apple.”

The next step is to think and analyze the message and get a second opinion from a roommate or an IT person.

Finally, the third step is to go ahead and connect once it is confirmed to be valid.

Sophomore English major Leah Mccall said she shops online pretty often and trusts well-known websites with her personal information.

“If the website is well known, for example, Amazon, then I probably trust it more than I should,” Mccall said. “I don’t really do any research into that, but if it’s like a smaller shop that I don’t really know about, then I am more hesitant.”

The IT department comes up with different themes weekly for National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the theme for last week was “Protecting Yourself & Your Data,” which focused on the importance of backing up files. Backing up files can prevent people from losing precious memories, like a wedding ceremony or a graduation.

Cutler said backing up files is also important in the sense that it will also protect students from a new type of virus called ransomware, which students may learn more about in this week’s theme, “Recognizing Cybercrime.”

Essentially, ransomware is when cyber criminals infect a victims’ computer with a virus and lock up files until the victim pays ransom. By having a backup copy of these files, it gives the victim a better opportunity to recover the files and not have to pay, in some cases thousands of dollars, to get their files back.

Kessyl Lim can be contacted at [email protected].