With thousands of computer hacks a day occurring worldwide, protecting one’s personal information is crucial for anyone online. Cybersecurity awareness month sheds light on the importance of educating those nationwide.
Minnesota State Mankato, the state’s second-largest university, hopes to highlight the value of protecting yourself and your personal information. MSU has over 15,000 students currently enrolled. Ensuring the safety of the thousands of files of personal information of students and faculty on file is a top priority.
Chief Information Security Officer at MSU, Michael Menne, said he has seen it all as his duties involve data security and how the university can safely handle people’s data.
Phishing is the most common cyber attack that hackers use. This consists of sending messages to any email or phone number under false pretenses in order to obtain personal information.
“Most cyber attacks are financially motivated. Their goal is to get your information or some sort of personal information so they can attack you financially,” Menne said. “They’re [phones] just miniature computers. They have the same vulnerabilities, they have the same software as a computer.”
Financial aid and tuition payments this month may cause an influx in hacking attempts due to an increase involving financial information.
“Right now, with financial data and financial aid getting deposited, we get a lot of email reports that say, ‘Hey somebody is asking for my direct deposit information?’” Menne said.
Watching for links and making sure they are legit is an extra step that may save you from becoming a victim of cyber hacking. Messages that are misspelled and contain grammar errors are a few indicators that a message is from a hacker.
“Think ‘Does the email just look correct? Does the language look correct? Is this the way my friend would speak?’” Menne said.
Protecting your password is one of the easiest ways people can stay at the forefront of cyber security awareness.
“They prey on your psychology. Attackers are very good psychologists, they prey on people’s psyche and vulnerabilities,” Menne said. “If something seems suspicious, 99% of the time it will be. It will be malicious if you think it’s suspicious.”
MSU has resources they call the four Ps, which consist of tools to educate people on phishing, patching passwords and protecting their device. There are videos that go more in-depth on the official MSU website.
Computer information science seems to have gained popularity, Menne said, as the need for those who specialize in that field has increased over the past decade.
“I have yet to have a student working in cyber security as an intern that has not found a job,” Menne said.
Founded by the National Cyber Security Alliance & the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004. Cybersecurity awareness month has been relevant for the past decade as technology has advanced dramatically since the early 2000s.
Header Photo: Senior Josue Bokoyo makes sure to update his StarID password when MSU requires it to be changed every six months, a good way to be cybersafe. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
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