Tag Archives: Phishing

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Digital Self Defense for Technical Communicators, Part Three

Category:Cyberstalking,Facebook,Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,Risk,Social Networking,STC,STC Rochester Tags : 

Digital Self Defense for Technical Communicators was first published in the Society for Technical Communication‘s Intercom magazine in November 2010.

How We’ve Communicated These Concepts at RIT

Higher education is a mix of cutting-edge and legacy computing systems. Unlike many large companies, most universities and colleges continue to use computing equipment well past its retirement age. At the other end of the spectrum, faculty and students always want the newest technology available. Securing such a heterogeneous environment is a challenge. With limited resources, RIT needed to find a way to reach a large user population that may be indifferent to security issues. Even worse, these users might consider themselves to be “experts,” especially because this is a technology university that attracts some of the brightest students.

To communicate digital security issues to RIT students, faculty, and administrators, we used standard communications vehicles such as a series of brochures on Internet safety topics and computer security requirements, email alerts and advisories for specific threats, and an RIT Information Security website containing electronic copies of the materials. We also used some more innovative methods, such as classes, social media, and community discussion and messaging.

Digital Self Defense

We developed a series of Digital Self Defense classes that we offered to faculty and staff. We advertised these classes through email, using every cliché about safe Internet use that we could think of. The initial class, “Introduction to Digital Self Defense,” was instructor led and primarily a presentation with discussion. In that class, we focused on communicating desktop, portable computer, and password standards. We also discussed safe Internet use.

New Student Orientation

Although the Digital Self Defense classes developed a strong following among faculty and especially staff, it was not an appropriate vehicle for reaching students. Recognizing that security awareness is a multi-year project, we developed an “up tempo” presentation to focus on three areas of concern to students: Safe Computing, Illegal File Sharing, and Safe Social Networking.

We discussed the various technical requirements for using computers at RIT after setting the stage by talking about the various threats students might face and the role of organized crime in creating malware. We incorporated video resources that illustrated key concepts or provided a “friendly” way to introduce concepts that we knew would be hotly debated by the students, such as illegal file sharing. To help students understand the need for safe social networking, we discussed examples of risky student Internet behavior at RIT and other universities. We also used videos to reinforce the importance of being selective about what information you place online.

Social Media

We established Facebook and Twitter accounts for the RIT Information Security Office designed to reach students. To build our fan base, we advertised the site through posters and emails, and we kick off each fall by entering students who become fans of the RIT Information Security Facebook page in a drawing for a $100 gift card. Over a three-year period, we gained almost 4,000 fans. We used the Facebook page to post articles about safe social networking and to engage fans in discussions about information security issues.

Phishy

RIT's Information Security Office mascot, Phishy, with Ritchie the Tiger

Phishing

Over the past 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. (As much as we’d like to block all phishing attempts and train our community to recognize and ignore such password requests, someone always falls for a well-crafted phish.)

Unsure of how best to combat the threat, we formed a team of our best information technology thinkers to address the issue. We chose a multipronged 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. In conjunction with a poster campaign adapted from Yale University, our student employees wore a fish costume around campus; “Phishy” was an instant hit. Phishy reminded students to never respond to requests for their passwords. Although we haven’t been able to stop everyone from responding to phishing attempts, we usually see only a few people respond now.

Lessons Learned

Different messages require different vehicles. Faculty and staff may still use email as a primary means of communication. Students, however, get much of their information from social networking, so that’s where we need to be to reach them.

REFERENCES

“Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids.” (www.theonion.com/video/facebook-twitter-revolutionizing-how-parents-stalk,14364/).

Moscaritolo, Angela. “InfoSec: 23 percent of users fall for spear phishing.” SC Magazine. 9 March 2009. (www.scmagazineus.com/infosec-23-percent-of-users-fall-for-spear-phishing/article/128480/).

Nation, Joe. “Facebook Mini Feeds with Steve.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=w35cFqG4qLk).

RIT Information Security website (https://security.rit.edu).

RIT Information Security Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RITInfosec).

“Sophos Facebook ID probe shows 41% of users happy to reveal all to potential identity thieves.” 14 August 2007 (https://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2007/08/facebook.html).


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Secure Mobile-an Oxymoron? (Redux)

Category:EDUCAUSE,Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,mobile device,Privacy,Risk,Uncategorized Tags : 

Responses to the #1 topic on IdeaScale, “Consumers dictate device usage, not IT,” indicate that MANY of you believe consumers will drive smartphone adoption in Higher Education, while the sentiment around the topic, “Get rid of the walls around your enterprise data,” indicates that quite a few of you believe that core university data should be accessible to smartphone users.

However, yesterday’s polls have shown that not even all of the attendees of yesterday’s webinar use PINS or swipe patterns on their smartphones. The inherent difficulties in entering a complex password on a smartphone increase the likelihood that users will rely on simple passwords, if any, to access their devices. At the same time, users are expecting access to more and more university resources through their smartphones, increasing the risk of a data breach.

Where does security fit into this picture?

In Thursday’s webinar, “Smartphone Privacy & Security, What Should We Teach Our Users?“, the speaker, Norman Sadeh, indicated that mobile users are three times more likely to fall for phishing attempts. That statistic implies that spear phishing against university communities, which already demonstrates more success than we’re comfortable with, will be even more effective against smartphone users. As we find ourselves more and more hurried, making quick decisions just to handle the ever-increasing stream of information flowing at us, we’re more prone to fall for these attacks.

I would guess that many of us who own smartphones are using them to access our university e-mail, if not other university resources. Most of us don’t have any control over whether someone may e-mail us private or confidential information. If our smartphones become the weakest link in protecting data, they will be targeted.

How many of us have misplaced our smartphones or left them sitting on our desk in an unsecured office? Have you left your smartphone in a taxi or on a shuttle bus?

Increased access to university data is a desirable convenience. Will we be able to get the right combination of security controls, user training, and policies in place to allow smartphone access without it leading to a security breach resulting in a notification event or embarrassment to the university? What kinds of security controls are you using to prevent this? What security apps do you recommend to your users?

Lots of troublesome questions. Where are the answers?

Ben Woelk
Co-chair, Awareness and Training Working Group
EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Higher Education Information Security Council

Policy and Awareness Analyst
Rochester Institute of Technology

ben.woelk@rit.edu
https://security.rit.edu/dsd.html
Become a fan of RIT Information Security at https://rit.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6017464645
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bwoelk
Follow my Infosec Communicator blog at https://benwoelk.wordpress.com

This blog entry is part of the EDUCAUSE Mobile Computing Sprint and is cross-posted at https://www.educause.edu/blog/bwoelk/SecureMobileanOxymoron/227983


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Top Ten Ways to Shockproof Your Use of Social Media

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

How do you stay safe online? Here are ten ways to shockproof your use of social media:

Tip #1: Use strong passwords

Tip #2: Keep your computer patched and updated

Tip #3: Use appropriate security software

Tip #4: Learn to recognize phishing and other scams

Tip #5: Use social networks safely

Tip #6: Remember who else is using social networking sites

Tip #7: Be wary of others

Tip #8: Search for your name

Tip #9: Guard your personal information

Tip #10: Use privacy settings

Top Ten Ways to Shockproof Your Use of Social Media Presentation


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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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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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