Tag Archives: Higher education

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Why Professional Conferences Matter

Category:Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Leadchange,Social Networking,STC Rochester Tags : 

I’ve heard a lot of discussion recently that professional conferences aren’t needed anymore because of the inter-connectivity afforded by the Internet. Why is it reasonable to spend hundreds or even a couple of thousand dollars to attend a face-to-face conference?

Over the last week, I’ve been part of the leadership teams for and attended two conferences, the STC Rochester Spectrum regional technical communications conference and the EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference in San Antonio. It’s been an incredible experience.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Spectrum provided an opportunity for me to meet face-to-face with people I’ve been talking to via social networking for almost a year. This is important because I was able to have indepth conversations with key leaders about critical issues affecting our profession. These conversations wouldn’t have been viable in social media. They may have been doable through Skype or phone, but the ability to read the nuances of a conversation when you’re not together is really difficult.
  • Spectrum also provided STC Rochester an opportunity to showcase our abilities (and to have those abilities affirmed by other community and society leaders.) It was important for our chapter to understand our connections and I think our membership was “blown away” that international leadership would attend. We were truly honored.
  • Spectrum provided state of the art content in technical communications. In the sessions I facilitated, Kristi Leach was able to test a usability session with peers and gain invaluable feedback and Hannah Morgan provided a fresh look at the importance of social networking in your branding and in your career.  Other speakers presented key information about current tools and the future of our profession.

The Security Professionals conference allowed me to see (way too briefly) colleagues that I speak with on conference calls and work with, but from a distance of thousands of miles. We’ve become friends and it’s great to be able to unwind with a team that’s worked hard together all year.

  • The Security Professionals conference gave me the opportunity to present with a panel of fellow practitioners that are remediating private information at our respective universities. It gave our audience an opportunity to hear how four schools are tackling similar problems and the “unvarnished” truth of the stuggles we’ve faced and inroads we’ve made. This was invaluable to our attendees, because they could ask questions and establish the networking contacts that will save them time and dollars as they tackle similar problems. We become resources for each other.
  • The Security Professionals conference also allowed me to work in tandem with Cherry Delaney of Purdue University, my former co-chair of the Awareness and Training Working group. We were able to share with a group of ISOs, information security practitioners (and even a CIO) the steps needed to create a holistic strategic Security Awareness plan and share examples of how we’ve approached the task of educating end users. We were also able to work with them in small groups to develop specific steps and put together the beginnings of an action plan.

The interaction at a professional conference is one of the key enablers to moving forward in your profession, becoming “unstuck” when you’re out of ideas, and establishing a network of contacts to help each other.

This interaction was helped by the fact that the conferences were of a size (120 and 350) where you could actually see the same people in several venues. Large conferences don’t always allow for that.

For me, professional conferences matter.

What do you get out of them?

 

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Digital Self Defense Workshop 101 (RRLC)

Category:Cyberstalking,Facebook,Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Presentations,Privacy,Social Networking,Uncategorized Tags : 

I had the pleasure of presenting the following presentation to the Rochester Regional Library Council on Oct. 25th. It contains general Internet and computer safety tips and is slightly modified from a session we provide to faculty and staff at RIT.

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  • 1

Developing a Security Mindset

Category:Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Risk,Uncategorized Tags : 

In my Cyber Self Defense course at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I teach a module on Developing a Security Mindset. Based on a class exercise by Tadayoshi Kohno at the University of Washington (mentioned in a blog posting by Bruce Schneier), the goal of the module is to reorient students’ thinking from the features of a product and how those features are supposed to be used to thinking about how someone might “hack” the product. In other words, develop a security mindset.

I ask the students to determine product assets and vulnerabilities and identify how someone might attack  the product. The students are told that they do not have resources to counter every possible threat.

I also have the students create a risk map that depicts the likelihood of a particular attack and the potential impact of that attack. Placing specific threats on a risk map helps students understand that since not all threats bear the same weight they need to choose what is most important to defend against.

The twist to the exercise is that students may not conduct an analysis of a computer-related product. For example, subjects presented by my students this quarter included Water Purification, Bicycle Safety, Running a Pizza Business, etc. As the students presented, we discussed their risk maps and the choices they made.

Group one risk map for a water purification plant

Although we may not agree with the students’ risk map, the exercise stretches IT students to think “outside the box.”

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New Resources for Security Awareness

Category:Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Uncategorized Tags : 

Having trouble with security awareness at your university or college? Need some new ideas? Trying to figure out what to do for National Cyber Security Awareness Month?

The members of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC) Awareness and Training Working Group have created some wiki-based resources to help you with your security awareness initiatives.

We’ve created two main resources.

  • The Quick Start Guide (https://wiki.internet2.edu:443/confluence/x/sRpG) provides ideas and resources for launching a security awareness program. Topics range from establishing an Information Security Awareness Program to different techniques and vehicles for “getting the message out.” The Quick Start Guide is useful for both beginning and advanced security awareness programs.
  • The Detailed Instruction Manual (https://wiki.internet2.edu:443/confluence/x/yBpG) provides additional topics around selected security awareness initiatives including campus-specific efforts and tips on communicating specific issues.

Check out these resources. The A&T Working Group is delighted to share their ideas with you and they’re there to help you be successful. They have a wide range of expertise and they believe you’ll find these materials valuable.

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  • 1

Having Fun with Security Awareness–Phishing

Category:Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Social Networking,Uncategorized Tags : 

Phishy

Phishy and Ritchie at RIT

The task of creating a culture of information security awareness in higher education can be a daunting one. You may feel as though your efforts are unnoticed and unrewarded. However, one of the really cool things about working in higher ed is that universities and colleges are often willing to share their best practices and even the materials they’ve created. This can ease the burden of coming up with new ideas to to help increase user awareness of information security threats.

Over the last couple of years, higher education has seen an increase in phishing attempts known in the industry as “spear phishing.” Spear phishing targets a specific group of individuals by crafting emails or other “bait” that appear to come from a known and trusted source, such as a school’s Information Technology department. In 2009, RIT saw a string of phishing attempts that had, from our view, a success rate that was unacceptable. (Much as we’d like to block all phishing attempts and train our community to recognize and not respond to password requests, someone will always fall for a well-crafted phish.)

Unsure of how to best combat the threat, we formed a team of our best information technology and information thinkers to address the issue. We chose a multi-pronged approach with both technology and people initiatives. We increased our email alerts and advisories to inform the community of the problem. Our Information Technology Services organization began prepending a warning message to all incoming emails that contained the word “password” in the text. However, we knew that this wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem.

One of our coop students had worked the previous summer at Yale University and showed us phishing awareness posters that they had created. We received permission from Yale to modify the posters for our own use and began a poster campaign on campus. We decided to go a step beyond.

What better way to draw attention to phishing than having a giant “phish” walk around campus! Phishy was an instant hit. Phishy visited offices around campus and greeted students with cards that reminded them to NEVER respond to requests for their passwords. Phishy hung around RIT for a week twice during 2009.

Gil Phish

Gil Phish at Yale

This fall, Yale leveraged our Phishy idea. They bought a fish costume and greeted new students at orientation. (They also created a Gil Phish Facebook page with pictures of Gil engaged in behavior that could only be described as sub-crustacean…

Building off of each others successes has enabled both universities to create innovative security awareness programs.

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