The University of New Brunswick launched a yearlong cyber security awareness campaign in order to protect students, faculty, staff and people in the community.
The director of strategic initiatives, David Shipley, said that UNB is using media, posters, e-mail, social media and a training course that is free for every student, faculty and staff to raise awareness about cyber security.
He says people take internet privacy and safety for granted and that the campaign wants to raise attention to some threats that exist out there.
The first thing people can do to be safe online is realize that there are a lot of risks that exist today, and be aware of those risks and that’s probably the biggest thing that we are hoping to accomplish with this year along campaign,” Shipley said.
According to Shipley, UNB and other universities in North America are a prime target for hackers.
Universities have all kinds of personal information, and criminals from around the world can use this information to create a credit card or steal an identity. Universities also hold a rich supply of intellectual property, the ideas and technologies that professors and researchers create.
“For example, a lot of people don’t know that the National Research Council suffered a major hack couple of years ago, where potentially millions of dollars worth of intellectual property was stolen by an unknown entity,” Shipley said.
Another reason why universities are a frequently targeted is that companies or governments will provide them with confidential data to help with research and for criminals it is easier to steal that data from colleges than to steal it from the government or corporations. Universities feature heavy connections of online services but have relatively light security.
Shipley says that attacks seen at UNB, like the supposed ISIS supporter who hacked the UNB Student Union website last year, are of little danger to students’ personal information.
“That type of cyber-attack is, relatively speaking, the equivalent of someone spray painting a city,” Shipley said.
“More harmful things can happen. People can steal information about individuals, like names and e-mail addresses and passwords that they use; they also try to steal credit card information and what not—those are really damaging attacks to individuals.”
Individuals can protect themselves by always making sure that they have a different password in every service they use.
“The biggest thing, for students in particular, is to be smart about your phone. A lot of students don’t put passcodes on their phones and I highly encourage every student to either use biometric safety, patterns or put pin codes in their phones,” he said.
“The second thing when it comes to smartphones is to be very aware of what location services have access to your location, because that information can sometimes be used to find out where you live or where your parents are.”
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