cybersecurity stop look think

Staying Cyber Secure at UAH

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year, UAH has teamed up with KnowBe4 to offer some informative articles, videos, and interactive security training to help all of us stay cyber aware.

At a time when we are more connected than ever, being “cyber smart” is of the utmost importance. This year UAH has already seen more than a fair share of attacks, attempted breaches, and persistent phishing attacks. Furthermore, as has been underlined by data collected by OIT, cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated with more evolved bad actors cropping up each day. Luckily, there are several steps that you can take on a daily basis to mitigate risks and help UAH stay one step ahead of malefactors. Here are a few quick tips:

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Faculty and Staff should be using Duo MFA wherever possible to reduce the likelihood of compromise should an attacker gain access to your username and passwords. Recently UAH made MFA mandatory for access to student email as well as via the use of Google MFA (sometimes called Google 2-Step Verification or 2SV). Enabling 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 bad actor hijacks your password. In this way, MFA makes it more difficult for attackers to use password cracking tools to break into your accounts.

Use strong passphrases/password manager

This may seem obvious, but securing strong passphrases/password managers is often overlooked. Using long, complex, and unique passwords is a good way to make your account much more difficult to hack, and an easy way of remembering your passwords is by using a secure commercial password manager.

Perform software updates

When your device prompts that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone, and ignore the message. UAH’s Security of IT Resources Policy requires that systems use the “most recently tested and approved software patches available.”  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 before you download that app

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 to your mobile device, such as apps. Before downloading any new app on your device, make sure that it’s 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 in your web browser, and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google 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. 

Being cyber smart and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and UAH from cyber attacks. No single tip is foolproof but taken together they can make a real difference for 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.