ITS pushes Web safety campaign

A recent technology hoax at local Midway High School led to a discussion of social ethics with Jon Allen, Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Baylor ITS.

A few weeks ago, two high school students copied a message sent from administration and edited it to warn students and parents to avoid going to school because of a possible threat. The false information was spread via Twitter and caused Midway great confusion, including numerous parent calls and cases of student stress.

“Pranks have changed,” Allen said. “It’s a joke, but when it goes from kind of playing around in a dorm room to you’re doing something online, it goes from, ‘Oh everybody kind of laughs it off’ to really, criminal action.”

Baylor holds policies that are general to technology, more like an operational guide for students instead of creating specific policies for usage.

“When that next piece of technology comes along — and it has time and time again ­— we’re not rewriting our policies,” Allen said.

These were created so that there are fewer loopholes available to network users. Any rules that apply are for all aspects of technology and link directly into policies regarding academic matters, where more specifics are found.

“The example that happened out at Midway, certainly that is an issue, but it is not so much a technology issue as it is a behavioral issue,” Allen said. “They could have done something very similar by printing out a letter.”

As a generation that has moved from baby pictures stored in boxes to most pictures being documented online, the protection of individuals is a changing game. Many students are unaware of how developments in technology have changed the way that social media accounts and profiles need to be privatized, as students are held accountable for their own technological presence.

“Taking that online responsibility then helps you understand going forward, ‘OK this is the piece I need to be aware of. This is why this is important’.” Allen said.

ITS has been implementing BearAware, a service that encourages internet safety. One of the aspects of this service is understanding that anything posted is available online in some format, no matter how anonymously it was posted or if the post was deleted.

“Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t be happy having on the front page of the Lariat,” Allen said.

Many organizations are capable of monitoring the use of their brand and the people who hope to work for them. Businesses now hire interns to look at social media pages in order to protect their marketing and gather information on possible employees.

“I don’t think people realize how prevalent that has become,” Allen said. “They’re going to look and they’re going to search because they don’t want embarrassment.”

As Baylor moves farther from on-site systems due to the needs of a growing school, the safety of information is held in high regard by the ITS. One sign of secure access is the Baylor login requirement on systems as simple as the directory, as well as more important sites like Canvas and Outlook Email.

“We are not going to sacrifice our security or privacy requirements just because a service is lower cost or better. That is something we are very particular about.” Allen said.