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 October 2021 is National Security Awareness Month!

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart

October2021 Wordcloud

Everyone has a duty to keep our campus safe and secure. When everyone is educated and prepared, attackers have less power to attack us. The best way to defeat cyber attackers is to educate our students and employees with the knowledge and tools to avoid falling for dangerous cyber-attacks.

Students and employees of Austin Peay can focus on the following areas each week for the month of October:

  • Week of October 4: Be Cyber Smart
  • Week of October 11: Phight the Phish
  • Week of October 18: Explore, Experience, Share
  • Week of October 25: Cybersecurity First

Week 1: Be Cyber Smart

Our everyday life has become increasingly tied to the Internet and the World Wide Web. This has made obtaining information easier, but also more dangerous. Cyber attackers have plenty of profitable targets to attack, compromise or incriminate. This first week, we will work on standard practices to avoid attackers.

Statistics and Problems

  • 61% Of data breaches used compromised credentials (Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report)
  • 56% of IT leaders believe their employees have picked up bad cybersecurity habits from working at home.  (Tessian) 
  • More than 99.9% of Microsoft Enterprise accounts that get invaded by attackers didn’t use multifactor authentication. (ZDNet) 

Best Practices

There are many fake websites on the internet. Watching for the secure icon (the lock in the address bar or at the bottom of the webpage) and searching for websites with “https” at the front of web addresses can help keep fake websites from viewing your personal data or installing malicious software on your computer.

Did an email appear from someone you have not talked to recently? Were you expecting an email from this person? Do not open it without confirming with the sender first. Attackers can use spoofing to appear as someone else, and can send malware over emails. Even after opening, be cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links.

Updating your devices might seem tedious, but it has a very important purpose. Updates usually come with security patches to avoid possible exploitable vulnerabilities in the software. Keeping operating systems, software, firewalls, and anti-malware up to date firewalls can hinder an attacker’s plans, and will help keep your systems secure.

“Helo msr. Jaen Ode, wev’e been tyring to reach u regarding or carr;’s extendd warrenty”. This email does not seem like a professional email. Watching for spelling errors can quickly identify an attacker attempting to breach the system.


Week 2: Phight The Phish

Phishing exploits have only grown since the pandemic began. Phishing cyber-attacks can be devastating in the hands of a crafty attacker. Phishing exploits are attacks that appear as a request for information from a trusted source, but are actually an attacker attempting to gain personal information from his or her target.


Spot the Phish

Watch for immediate demands, such as “URGENT!”, “PLEASE RESPOND IMMEDIATELY”, and “IMPORTANT!”. These can be real emails, but phishers also use this language to get a quick response out of their targets before the target has time to think.

Ask yourself, “Is this email something the sender would actually send?”, “Did I even order this service?”, “Why does this company need this information?”. If you can't find a good answer for these questions, the message is probably a phish.

A company will very rarely ask for the user to sign in to his or her account over an email. Unless told directly by a company or group, treat requests to login over an email as a phishing attack

Week 3: Explore, Experience, Share

The Information Security and Technology field is one of the largest growing industries in the world. As businesses become more and more dependent on the Internet to operate, the need for cybersecurity will grow. Thus, the cybersecurity field is worth spending time to investigate.


Cyber-Security Benefits

Companies require private and sensitive data to be protected. Companies are looking for good security personnel who understand the dangers of the Internet, and know how to properly secure a network. Companies are also looking for people who can convert technical speech into common speech, and can teach others how to practice good cyber-hygiene.

The knowledge you obtain will help you understand how to avoid certain attacks becoming successful. The skills you acquire to protect a network will help your job potential.

Look around for local jobs in information technology and cybersecurity. There are many opportunities local, and abroad.

Week 4: Cyber Security First

As we end on Cybersecurity Awareness Month, apply your knowledge to the work place and home. This will include updating operating systems, software, firewalls and anti-malware software, embedding good practices into everyday life, and securing new devices.

Facts and Statistics

Protecting Your Devices

Operating systems, software, firewalls and anti-malware software should be kept updated. This means updating the software when a new patch is released.

Multifactor Authentication is a combination of knowledge and actions that helps keep an attacker from entering your account simply by knowing your password. By using multifactor authentication, you secure your devices with a second factor, such as something you have (ex: your mobile device) or something you are (your fingerprint). 

If you receive an email from a unknown or suspicious source, or a service you never requested, don’t open it. By being cautious towards suspicious emails, and not clicking on links or opening attachments from these emails, you can avoid possible breaches and remain secure.