ITS attempts to increase cybersecurity

Information Technology Services hosted a booth at Dr Pepper Hour Tuesday to advocate for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Students could play games, win prizes and pick up free items.Carlye Thornton | Lariat Photo Editor
Information Technology Services hosted a booth at Dr Pepper Hour Tuesday to advocate for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Students could play games, win prizes and pick up free items.
Carlye Thornton | Lariat Photo Editor
By Viola Zhou

Throw away emails with unexpected attachments or links, create long strong passwords and lock all devices. These are steps Information and Technology Services recommends to keep devices and personal data safe.

During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Baylor ITS is working to keep students away from threats in cyberspace through its educational campaign.

The theme of this year’s campaign, Clickaholics Anonymous, describes the habit of clicking on all the links that people receive through text, email and online.

“We tend to click on whatever we get,” said Will Telfer, information security analyst at ITS. “We want to educate people to look at links carefully and give them some tips on how they can learn about what’s a valid link and what may not be.”

Telfer said malware and viruses can be installed on devices after users click on harmful links.

ITS will have several activities this month to raise the awareness of cybersecurity on campus. On Wednesday, ITS hosted the Dr. Pepper Hour at the Bill Daniel Student Center to promote BearAware, the cybersecurity educational program.

In a game called phishing, students were asked to take one of the fish-shape cards from a card pool with a fishing rod. The risky habits written on the back of the cards were then read to them.

Spring sophomore Mariela Gutierrez got a card that said “you left your iPad unattended in the library.”

“It was fun. The thing on the card is helpful because it is what we do,” she said. “Last semester I used to leave my stuff in the library and go to get dinner at the dining hall. I wouldn’t do that now.”

In addition to the game, students also got free bottles, pens and bags with the logo of BearAware.

Carl Flynn, director of marketing and communications for Information Technology and University Libraries, said it is not easy to make people more vigilant about cybersecurity issues.

“The hard thing about this is people really don’t think it’s going to happen on them until it happens,” Flynn said. “You tell them this is out there, be aware, do this, don’t do this, and they do it because they think, ‘I’m the exception to the world.’

He said giving things away and making students pay attention to BearAware on social media may be an effective way to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity expert Dr. Dale Zabriskie will give a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Cashion 403 titled “The Known Knowns, The Known Unknowns, and the Unknown Unknowns of Cyber Security.”

“We see students bring in their tablets, phones and laptops,” Telfer said. “Our main goal is just to educate them on how to keep themselves safe. It doesn’t mean being afraid of using these devices, but to know as much as you can about what you are doing gets you best protected.”

Telfer said Baylor is a relatively safe place as ITS has systems and software in place that help protect data. It also has educational program to teach people and change the culture.

He said the cybersecurity team in ITS tries to keep students and faculty updated on what they should know while preventing confusion from information that doesn’t apply to them.

“If there is a scam going around, or some security announcements that come out, or something we feel would affect a lot of our constituents, I will put them on the social media,” he said. “I’ve tried to put more information and good information out there to increase the amount of followers we have.”

Telfer said students can look for signs indicating they may have been attacked in cyberspace.

“A lot of times people realize they are hacked by the amount of email they are getting, or their device is slower than usual, or maybe someone emails them saying you are sending me this weird message,” he said.

He said students should notify Baylor police if they suspect their devices are under threat.