Tuesday February 9, 2016

Becoming Cyber-Mindful

At the University of Dayton, information security improvements are taking top billing. With "cyber-mindfulness" as the goal, campus is looking to become more savvy about online risks and how to care for digital information.

University leadership is calling for greater awareness of safe computing practices and for changes to login procedures for faculty and staff, such as the introduction of a 2-factor authentication system. "There are many ways in which personal and institutional data systems are being breached,” says Interim Provost Paul Benson. “The dangers involved for the University are such that we take very seriously protecting individuals' identities and stewarding confidential University information." 

This month, UDit launched a Safe Computing 2016 awareness campaign for faculty, staff and students. According to Tom Skill, UD's chief information officer, the yearlong campaign will focus on "cyber-mindfulness," a term he says speaks to the collective ownership people should have for protecting personal and UD resources. UDit will provide monthly cyber security tips and training opportunities covering different aspects of information security but most importantly, the human behavior factors.

"Information security professionals fight cyber crime every minute, every day by blocking attacks on networks, applications and hardware," explains Dean Halter, Director for IT Risk Management, "but they can't protect systems if we fall prey to scams, malware, ransomware, phishing and other sophisticated social engineering tactics." Halter says the key to changing behavior is raising awareness about social engineering tactics and teaching people how to recognize and avoid spear phishing, malware, bogus advertisement links, and other traps used by cyber criminals.

In the fall, UDit will roll out a 2-factor authentication system for faculty and staff, a step many universities are taking to add protection to institutional data, Halter says.

"Two-factor authentication is showing up everywhere. It works because it requires something personal in addition to a password — a temporary phone verification or a temporary access code. A hacker doesn't have access to those things even if he has your password."

The 2-factor authentication system has already been rolled out to UDit and some administrative staff on campus in an early-adopter phase intended to introduce the technology gradually.

Visit go.udayton.edu/safecomputing for more information on this initiative. Updates will be delivered regularly by email, Porches posts and articles in Campus Report.

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