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USU IT Encourages Students to be Cyber Secure

Thursday, Oct. 04, 2012

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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and Utah State University’s Information and Technology (IT) department reminds USU students to be safe Internet consumers by creating strong passwords and being aware and on the lookout for cyber threats.

Bob Bayn, USU IT security analyst, said cyber crime is a real issue that affects students everyday. Just Monday [Oct. 1], USU students were sent an email message from the Utah State University Police alerting them of various recent online fraud attempts perpetrated, some successfully, against USU students. Bayn said the IT department continues to emphasize that one of the best protections against these cyber threats is a strong password.

“We need strong passwords because passwords are becoming increasingly easy to crack,” Bayn said. “The best measure of strength is password length.”

Bayn said the biggest risk for students is those accounts where they can suffer financial loss, making bank passwords an obvious target. He said email accounts are also targeted because other passwords may be discovered from email messages. Low profile or seemingly “unimportant” logins are also targeted to gain information to other accounts, which is why he said each login and account must be unique.

“Using multiple passwords will protect you from hackers trying to guess or intercept or social engineer your password,” Bayn said. “Sometimes your security efforts just have to be above average while the hackers are picking off the below average victims.”

Bayn said besides cracking weak passwords, hackers can also gain access to accounts and personal information through social engineering “phish messages,” pretending to be from email systems, banks, or other online e-commerce services.

Bayn said students must be “Internet skeptics” and be wary of messages that don’t seem quite right or seem too good to be true.

“Making your computer do what you want it to do is only half the job,” Bayn said. “It is equally important to insure that your computer does not do what hackers want it to do.”

For questions about security and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, contact Bob Bayn, Information Technology Department Security Analyst,

About USU Information Technology

Information Technology provides world-class IT support to the students, faculty and staff at Utah State University. For more information, see its website.

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