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The (Information Security) Doctor is In | Cybersecurity for the Rest of Us

by Kailah Neal on 2020-02-26T12:00:00-05:00 in Criminal Justice, Technology, Doctoral, Education, Graduate, Undergraduate, Business | Comments


The (Information Security) Doctor is In is a new column of practical tips on cybersecurity literacy. This edition comes from faculty member, Dr. Chéryl Wilmore. Dr. Wilmore teaches Graduate and Doctoral courses in both the College of Technology and College of Education. She is a certified Apple consultant and technology project manager overseeing B2B solutions engineering and the transformation of technology infrastructure for businesses along the eastern seaboard.

Cybersecurity for the Rest of Us

When you hear the term Cybersecurity, you may think of the Department of Defense (DOD), Big Tech, Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) or other “high-up” technology professionals who work in IT. Yet Cybersecurity – refers to protection for your devices (computers, tables, smartphones, etc.) against unauthorized access and attacks while you are connected to the Internet (Cybersecurity, n.d.). In other words, Cybersecurity is simply safeguards for connecting to the Web.

You may have already heard of threats such as malware, ransomware, spoofing, phishing, hacking, and other forms of intrusions which may lead to cybercrimes. That’s because, from the DOD to the ordinary user, we are all vulnerable to these threats. So, you may ask, should we stop using our devices, or throw them away? Absolutely not! The best advice I can offer is that you stay informed about existing threats as well as Cybersecurity (safeguards) that you can employ to reduce your chances of falling prey to hackers and malicious attacks.

Dr. Chéryl Wilmore,

WilmU Faculty Member

Here are just a few cybersecurity methods to get you started. You can put these into practice right away:

  1. Never click on links in an email – especially if it’s from someone you don’t recognize. The links may seem to be from a legitimate business you frequent online, but odds are they are not. Instead, open your browser and navigate to the site directly, without clicking on anything from the email. Spoofing is when a hacker in disguise sends a communiqué pretending to be from a legitimate source. Because of this, steer away as much as possible, from clicking links. Visit websites directly by typing in the website address in a web browser, after which you can search the website for a specific location.
  2. Avoid Open Networks also known as Free WIFI – Connecting to open public WIFI can expose you to hackers that are connected to the same WIFI network. Sometimes it may be necessary to connect to WIFI when you absolutely need access to the Internet and your cell phone signal is low. As a rule of thumb, wait until your signal is better. However, when connecting to public WIFI, it is safer to use secure public WIFI, which means a login is required, e.g., at the doctor’s office, car dealership service center, the bank or other venues that provide secure free WIFI. It is also a best practice to use a personal hotspot, if you have one included with your cell phone plan.
  3. Don’t answer unknown calls – When you receive a call from an unknown caller, or if a number that you don’t recognize shows on your caller ID, avoid answering. As much as possible, it is best to add phone numbers to your address book or contact list from which you expect to receive calls. Typically, caller ID is an automatic service; however, spoofing is all too common. If you are unsure, do not answer and never redial the caller. Instead, call the business directly using a legitimate number that is listed. After an unknown or spoofed call is answered, it is possible for a hacker to dial or transmit a code to execute the upload and installation of malicious software onto your device. To accomplish this, in some cases, the call only needs to be active for a few seconds. If you receive a call seemingly from someone you know, as soon as you discover the call is not from whom it appeared to be – the caller ID has been spoofed – hang up immediately.
  4. Guard your passwords – It’s OK not to remember your passwords. Actually, it’s ideal. Instead of allowing your web browser to remember your passwords, writing your passwords in a notebook or somewhere else that is unsecure, my best advice is that you use a password manager such as 1Password or LastPass. Password managers are utility software that help you manage your login credentials and keep your online accounts secure. You only need to remember one password to login to the password manager; your account logins are auto filled without your needing to remember anything else.
  5. Use a multi-step login – This is commonly known as two-factor authentication (2FA). In addition to your username and password (hopefully you will use a password manager), you will receive a code preferably via a text message, which you will also need to enter to gain access to your online account. You should opt to use 2FA whenever possible for financial, email, and other online accounts.

Cybersecurity isn’t just for the DOD, Big Tech or high-ranking technology professionals; it’s for all of us.

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