Oct 152014
 
Everyone wants to exercise best practices and stay safe while online, though doing so is often easier said than done. For most, convenience outweighs security and as a result, we put ourselves and others at risk for identity theft and other cyber threats. In keeping with the shared responsibility theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we wanted to bring you an opportunity to not only hear about the typical dangers and pitfalls that come with being online, but more importantly, for you to know which ones (as an individual), you are most susceptible to.


One of the National Cyber Security Alliances’ partners (EMC2/RSA) has kindly provided an “Online Identity Risk Calculator” quiz, to help you find out your personal identity risk score and based on that – they will provide practical tips on how you can keep your online identity protected.Just answer 10 questions and discover how your online activities – from banking and shopping to the types of social networking sites you visit – may potentially make you more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. Click HERE to play! – IDENTITY RISK GAME

Are you unwittingly putting ECU at risk?…Now that we have looked at our personal habits and the potential consequences of such, we wanted to give everyone a chance to take a similar evaluation to determine if and how their behavior differs while at work.

Just answer 12 questions to calculate your workplace security risk score.  Discover how behaviors like sharing passwords, or using your work computer to check personal emails or download music could make the university vulnerable to hacking, malware and other attacks. Click HERE to play! – WORKPLACE SECURITY GAME

 

Did your online risk score(s) surprise you? Did you think that you were being more careful than you really are? Are you practicing safer habits at home than you are at work or vice-versa? – If so, why?

We would love to hear feedback from staff and faculty across campus to help us understand and target the areas of concern. Please post to this blog, our Technology Digest blog or our ITCS Facebook page with your results and/or comments!

ITCS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ITCSatECU

ECU Technology Digest blog: http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/techdigest

Jan 272014
 

Phishing is a method by which someone tries to lure you into revealing your valuable personal information, such as an account password or credit card number. The intent of this type of scam is to gain access to your user accounts or money—something we all want to avoid.

The problem we face today is that phishing scams are becoming more and more convincing. They look like authentic communications from people and organizations that we know and trust. No longer can we depend on finding misspelled words in a hastily written email or obvious mistakes on a fake website to know that something is amiss.

Phishing attacks are being carried out with far greater attention to detail. Emails and websites look surprisingly authentic, easily fooling the casual observer. But how can we tell the difference?

Fortunately, most phishing scams have some telltale signs that will give them away. Here’s what to look for and what to do:

  • BE WARY of any request for your password, account number or other personal information, especially if the request is urgent and a web link is given for you to submit your information. This is the key signature of a phishing scam.
  • DO NOT click on the imbedded link, even if you are curious. Sometimes, these links will take you to a fake website to harvest your information and sometimes they will infect your computer with malware.
  • DO check with your trusted source (e.g., your bank, online retailer, IT department) to determine if the request is legitimate. Be sure to open a new browser window and type in the home address and navigate from there. Or simply give them a call on the phone.

For more information see Don’t be “Phooled” by Phishing Scams at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/itsecurity/Phishing-Scams.cfm.

Oct 302013
 

Passwords are the keys to your kingdom; you must use them wisely. In this newsletter we discuss how to create strong passwords that bad guys cannot easily guess and how to use them securely.

Passwords are the keys to the kingdom. Once someone knows your password, they can steal  our identity or access all of your personal information. Let’s learn what makes a good password and how to use them securely. There are two key points to good passwords:

• First, you want passwords that are hard to guess. This means do not use simple passwords such as 123456, your pet’s name or your birth date.

• Second, use passwords that are easy to remember. If you keep forgetting your passwords, they are not very helpful.

The problem is cyber criminals have developed sophisticated programs that can guess (or brute force) your passwords, and they are constantly getting better at it. This means that they can break into your accounts if your passwords are not  strong enough. To protect yourself, you want your password to be as long as possible. The longer your password is, the stronger it is. In fact, instead of using just a single word as your password, use multiple words. This is called a passphrase.

For example, your passphrase could be something simple like: time for chocolate

To make your passphrase even more secure, do the following:

• Use a number in your passphrase.
• Have at least one lower case and one upper case letter in your passphrase.
• Use a symbol in your passphrase.

Let’s take our passphrase and make it even more secure by replacing some of the letters with numbers and symbols, as we just discussed. First, replace the first letter with a capital letter. Next, we can replace letters with numbers or symbols. For example, you can replace the letter ‘a’ with the ‘@’ symbol or replace the letter ‘o’ with the number zero. In addition, we can add symbols using common punctuation such as spaces, a question mark or an exclamation point. As a result, we now have a strong password that is very difficult for cyber criminals to compromise, yet is simple to remember and easy to type: Time for ch0c0l@te!

Using Passwords Securely
In addition to creating strong passwords you must also use them securely. A strong password is of little use if the bad guys can easily steal it from you.

• Never share your password with anyone else, including fellow employees. Remember, your password is a secret; if anyone else knows your password it is no longer secure.

• Do not use public computers, such as those at hotels or libraries, to log into a work or bank account. Since anyone can use these computers, they may be infected with malicious code that captures all of your keystrokes. Only log into your work or bank accounts on trusted computers or mobile devices you control.

• If you accidently share your password with someone else, or believe your password may have been compromised or stolen, be sure to change it immediately.

• Be careful of websites that require you to answer personal questions. These questions are used if you forget your password and need to reset it. The problem is the answers to these questions can often be found on the Internet, or even your Facebook page. Make sure that if you answer personal questions you use only information that is not publicly known.

• Many online accounts offer something called two-factor authentication, or two-step verification. This is where you need more than just your password to log in, such as codes sent to your smartphone. When possible, always use these stronger methods for authentication.

Different Passwords for Different Accounts
Be sure to use different passwords for different accounts. For example, never use the passwords for your work or bank accounts for your personal accounts, such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. This way, if one of your passwords is hacked, the other accounts are still safe.

If you have too many passwords to remember, consider using a password manager. This is a
special program you run on your computer that securely stores all of your passwords for you.
The only passwords you need to remember are the ones to your computer and the password
manager program. Check with your supervisor, the help desk or the information security team to see if a password manager is an option you can use.

Print this newsletter: Module07-Passwords-Newsletter

© The SANS Institute 2013  /  Used with permission from The SANS Institute.