Provided by the IT@DU Information Security Team
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a global effort to help everyone stay safe and protected when using technology whenever and however you connect. During week one we will cover some Cyber Security basics.
At a time when we are more connected than ever, being “cyber smart” is of the utmost importance. This year has already seen more than a fair share of attacks and breaches, including the SolarWinds and Kaseya breaches as well as high-profile attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure. Furthermore, as has been underlined by these recent breaches, cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated with more evolved fraudsters cropping up each day. Luckily, there are several steps that we can take on a daily basis to mitigate risks and stay one step ahead of malefactors. Here are a few quick tips:
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a fraudster hijacks your password. In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts. The University of Denver offers DUO MFA to all faculty, students, and staff at no cost. To learn more, please visit: https://go.du.edu/MFA
Use strong passphrases/password manager
This may seem obvious, but all too often using strong passphrases/password is overlooked. People spending more time online during the pandemic has certainly contributed to more fraudsters prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex, and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked, and an easy way of keeping track and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager. The University of Denver offers the LastPass password management solution to all faculty, students, and staff at no cost. To learn more, please visit: https://go.du.edu/LastPass
Perform software updates
When a device prompts that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone, and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait – update.
Do your research
Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to stay safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new to your device, such as apps. Before downloading any new apps to your device, make sure that it is safe by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say, and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.
Check your settings
Be diligent to double-check your privacy and security settings and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from OneDrive docs, to Zoom calls, and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees. To learn more about Zoom security, please visit: https://www.du.edu/it/software/secure-zoom
Being cyber smart and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from cyber-attacks. No single tip is foolproof but taken together they can make a real difference in taking control of your online presence. Following these tips is also easy and free. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked exponentially – and prevent lost time and money, as well as annoyance.
Interested in becoming a cybersecurity professional? Check out the University College Information and Communications Technology program for information on graduate degrees, certificates, and careers in this rapidly growing field!