Cyber attacks are now part of our digital lives. With data becoming the most valuable commodity in the information age, it is constantly being targeted, collected, and exploited for both legitimate and illegitimate means. Our most sensitive information can lead to reputational and financial damages such as identity theft, extortion, and downtime. These cyber attacks will not stop or slow down in the foreseeable future.
Information Security is a team sport with individual contributions racking up quickly. There is no magic bullet when it comes to information security and privacy. Whether you’re responsible for protecting Colgate’s sensitive data, or trying to protect yourself online, follow these information security and privacy tips to build multiple layers of protection, and inform better decisions to build better habits.
Similar to a burglar, a malicious actor will likely move on to another target if there is too much work involved in compromising your account. You can increase the work-factor - the amount of time, tools and resources needed to compromise an account - by turning on Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your accounts that support it. Follow the resources below to make yourself a harder target.
Watch what you’re sharing on social networks. Malicious and nefarious people can befriend you just to gain access to the treasure trove of personal information - where you go to school, where you work, when you’re on vacation, your personal feelings and viewpoints - that could help them gain access to more valuable data.
It only takes a few seconds for a malicious person to install software on your device that could allow them to monitor your keystrokes, browsing habits, and even remotely turn on your device’s camera. When you step away from your computer or laptop, practice locking the screen by using quick keyboard shortcuts. It also only takes an extra second.
Be sure to monitor your accounts for any suspicious activities, whether they are credit cards, emails, or social media accounts. If you see unfamiliar activities, it could be a sign that you’ve been compromised. If you receive unsolicited password reset requests, it could also be a sign of someone trying to access your account. It’s best to verify, and follow up.
Begin practicing better password management by using a strong mix of characters, and avoid using the same password for multiple sites. Password length is generally more important than password complexity in thwarting the latest cyber threats. Consider using a reputable password manager for secure storage, ease of management, and sharing with people you trust.
Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website by hovering over it, or long-pressing on mobile devices. A malicious person will often take advantage of slight spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful website.
The university utilizes hardware firewalls to protect the borders between the Internet and the campus network, as well as between the campus network and the data center. Firewall software is also configured on Colgate's servers.
Every computer is equipped with a firewall and ITS recommends that users turn on these firewalls.
While free WiFi hotspots offer convenience and faster streaming, they are also insecure networks filled with strangers you may not trust. When connected to these WiFi networks, your Internet traffic can be intercepted, revealed, or redirected to malicious websites to steal your passwords or personal information. Just as you would be leery of a van that pulls up offering you a free ride, you should also think twice before connecting to a random WiFi network, especially when it's free.
Companies and software vendors will occasionally release updates to improve functionality and patch software vulnerabilities. In general, its best to set devices to automatically apply these updates. Some devices or software may require a manual step. It’s important to review and ensure your system is up to date with the latest updates.
Your data and information have become the most valuable 21st Century commodity; a commodity that others are looking to exploit for their own personal gain or profit. It’s wise to challenge a situation when it seems like too much information is being asked. Instead, ask yourself, “Is it really necessary or worth it, that I give up this information?”
Direct questions regarding digital privacy and security to:
Ask for Help
If you are unable to find the information you need in the documentation available online, the ITS Service Desk is available to assist.