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Information Security

Holiday Cybersecurity Tips for Higher Education Users

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it’s also a time when cybercriminals are on the prowl, looking for opportunities to exploit security vulnerabilities. It is important to be aware of potential cybersecurity threats and take steps to protect your personal and University-related information. In this article, we’ll discuss essential cybersecurity tips for end users in higher education to stay safe during the holidays.  

Secure Your Devices: Ensure that your devices, including your computer, smartphone, and tablet, are up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Cybercriminals often target outdated software with known vulnerabilities. Set your devices to update or schedule regular manual updates automatically.  

Use Strong, Unique Passwords: One of the simplest yet effective ways to enhance security is by using strong, unique passwords for your accounts. Avoid using common passwords like “123456” or “password.” Create complex passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. A reputable password manager helps create and store unique passwords.  

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Wherever possible, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your online accounts. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second form of authentication, such as a one-time code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.  

Be Cautious with Emails: Phishing attacks are common during the holiday season. Be vigilant when opening emails, especially those from unfamiliar senders. Be cautious of unsolicited attachments or links and verify the authenticity of email requests for sensitive information.  

Secure Your Home Wi-Fi: If you’re working from home during the holidays, ensure that your home Wi-Fi network is secure. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, as they may not be secure.  

Use VPN for Remote Access: If you need to access University systems and resources remotely, use the University-provided Pulse Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection. The VPN adds an extra layer of security and ensures that your data remains confidential.  

Back Up Your Data: Regularly back up your important data to a secure location. The most secure option is the University-provided OneDrive instance. In case of a cyber incident or data loss, having a recent backup can save your valuable information.  

Be Cautious with Online Shopping: If you plan to do holiday shopping online, make sure to purchase from reputable websites with secure checkout processes. Be cautious of unsolicited offers or deals that seem too good to be true.  

Avoid Public Computers and Devices: While it may be tempting to use public computers or devices during your holiday travels, it’s best to avoid them for tasks that involve sensitive information, such as accessing University accounts, shopping, or online banking.  

Report Security Concerns: If you suspect any security incidents or encounter suspicious activities related to your University accounts, report them to OIT promptly. Early reporting can help prevent further security breaches and potential data loss.  

By following these holiday cybersecurity tips, you can protect your personal and University-related information from cyber threats during the holiday season. Stay vigilant, stay secure, and enjoy the holidays with peace of mind.