Before we share some important tips for staying safe online during the holidays, we want to thank you. Your extraordinary dedication and flexibility at a critical time in the academic calendar has helped us face a serious global cyber security threat with confidence. Below are some cybersecurity tips to follow throughout the year that are especially important as the winter holidays approach.
Take extra precautions while on vacation
Malicious hackers typically step up their efforts during the holidays, when IT support isn’t as readily available and organizations are likely to be slower to detect and respond to suspicious activity. It is therefore particularly important at this time to follow the best online security practices.
Strengthen your passwords
One of the main causes of data breaches is the security of compromised passwords. Cybercriminals attempt to gain access to your information for several reasons, but the most common is usually financial gain. Use a unique password for each account, create strong passwords and provide yourself with a good password manager.
Install security updates as they become available
Unfortunately, many software vulnerabilities are discovered only after they have been exploited. This is why it is extremely important to keep your software up to date with the latest security updates, as it is safe to assume that malicious actors are hunting outdated devices.
Be on the lookout for phishing scams
The holidays are notorious for an increase in phishing scam efforts. There are a number of clues that can help you distinguish legitimate emails from scams. Beware of emotional calls, impersonation attempts, and fake and malicious links and attachments. Find more tips on the Information Security Office’s Phishing Scams FAQ page.
Use VPN on Public Networks
Public networks in places like airports, coffee shops and other popular gathering places are often targeted by hackers, who may monitor activity on a public network or set up a hotspot in the hopes that you choose it, allowing them to have a window into your online session. Make sure you always use the “official” Wi-Fi network or use cellular data when you’re on the go. Using a VPN protects your online session and should be used when working on a public network. And when shopping, make sure you only do so on a secure network, and if that’s not possible, use VPN. This creates a secure connection to the campus network. The campus offers VPN clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Register a device in Microsoft MFA if you haven’t already
When it comes to your account security, more factors equals more protection. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has been shown to block 99.9% of compromised credential attacks that often target email and document storage. Most employees have already registered for MFA, but if you haven’t registered a device in MFA or you’re not sure if you have, you can start the MFA registration process and also check which device you have registered by accessing Microsoft’s My Connections page. . If you are a student and want to start protecting your Microsoft account now, you can register yourself for Microsoft MFA using this web form.
The Information Security Office offers many other cybersecurity resources on its website. We hope you are staying safe and having a relaxing and rejuvenating break.