(This article originally ran as “From the Desk: Celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month” in the October 9, 2019, issue of Inside IU.)
October is often marked by chilly temperatures, high school football games and Halloween decorations. Hold on to your pumpkin spice latte, though; jack-o’-lanterns and fake spider webs may not be the only things to scare you this time of year.
October is also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This designation doesn’t really get the attention it deserves, but we might need to rethink this oversight. Data breaches and cyber attacks are all around us. Remember this summer’s Capital One data breach, which affected about 100 million customers – more than 30 percent of the U.S. population?
Universities are particularly vulnerable to three types of cyber attacks, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, (which happens to quote IU Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Brad Wheeler):
Phishing: These scams are fraudulent messages sent from thieves posing as legitimate institutions or people (like your employer, university, internet service provider or bank) in an attempt to gain confidential information.
Ransomware: These attacks are just what they sound like. When a computer becomes infected/compromised with ransomware, it begins to encrypt the files so no one can access them without paying a fee.
Denial-of-service attacks: These attacks try to drown a computer system or network with a flood of data. “That is a great concern,” Wheeler said. If someone has a beef with a university, they can “rent a mercenary army to flood your network pipes and knock you offline.”
Scared yet? You should be. (Wheeler lists even more eye-opening facts in this “From the Desk” column, “Cybersecurity is worse than you think, and we need your help.”)
Never fear: The experts at University Information Technology Services IT Training have you covered. Our staff offers a variety of engaging ways to promote cybersecurity awareness and education.