Staying Safe Online
Whether it’s to study or connect with their family and peers, college students are online a lot. But as Internet use has increased, so have cybercrimes. We chatted with Information Security Officer Josh Callahan—who leads cybersecurity efforts at HSU—for some tips on how students can protect their identity and personal information when they’re online.
Know the Facts
Universities have always attracted hackers, but mobile devices and wireless Internet have made them bigger targets in recent years. For instance, did you know the number of cyberattacks in the U.S. increased 48 percent between 2013 and 2014?
At HSU, one of the most common types of attacks is the phishing scam. In this type of scheme, scammers send a legitimate looking email to steal someone’s personal or financial information. “There are two rounds,” Callahan says. “First, they try to get your username and password. The second phase is using your account to send out a batch of emails that usually ask for financial information, like your bank account.”
Don’t Take the Bait
One of the best ways to protect yourself from a cyberattack is to recognize what one looks like, says Callahan. And when it comes to phishing scams, they often look alike.
- Look for spelling and grammatical errors
Major misspellings, grammatical errors, and strange language typically indicate a scam. That’s because so many attacks originate in countries outside the United States. Also be wary of emails that are generically addressed—for example, using “HSU customer” instead of your student’s name.
- If it’s threatening or urgent, don’t open it
Emails that are threatening—“if you don’t do this your account will be deleted”—are also typically spam. The same goes for emails saying you must act quickly.
- Don’t download or click on links
If an email asks you to download something—for instance a security update—don’t do it. Chances are, you’ll be downloading software that will damage or disable your computer.
Report Suspicious Emails
If you come across something suspicious, Callahan recommends using the “Report Spam” tool in Gmail and Outlook. These accounts have an option that allows you to flag suspicious emails for further investigation. He also encourages students to report any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you’ve already been the target of a cyberattack, contact the Technology Help Desk at (707) 826-4357.
For more tips on how your student can stay safe online, visit humboldt.edu/its.