With students and instructors back to class for the Fall Term, the influx of technology use can present an opportunity for cybercriminals.
Brock University Information Technology Services (ITS) is urging students, staff, faculty and librarians to be cautious while engaging with all forms of technology and recommends taking preventative measures to protect against cyberattacks.
“Cybercriminals are targeting education institutions more frequently, and as Brock’s 2022-23 academic year begins, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks,” says Daniel Garcia, Director, Information Security and Cyber Security. “Cybercriminals see this as an ideal opportunity to launch a successful cyberattack in an attempt to steal valuable information and assets, disrupt systems, or hold the University for ransom (using ransomware).”
Garcia advises the Brock campus community to be wary of suspicious emails, texts, files and links they receive.
“Taking the time to inspect an email and its sender before opening it or clicking on a link could prevent a major cyberattack from occurring,” he says. “Being diligent at this time is important for the protection of your data assets and the assets of the University.”
Two common cyberattacks are phishing and ransomware.
Phishing deceives users by mimicking legitimate sources, such as Microsoft and Amazon, to trick users into submitting sensitive information, such as a username, password and/or multi-factor authentication code. In some instances, it could also include ID numbers, names, addresses and other information that is later used for identity theft. Phishing often takes the form of a link within an email or text message.
Brock ITS advises students and employees to be suspicious of sites asking for usernames and passwords, and to think twice before clicking on links. If there is any doubt, forward the email to email@example.com to confirm the validity of the email.
Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts/locks computer systems and files so users cannot access them. The attacker then demands a ransom in return for access to the systems and files. In most cases, users are infected by downloading files attached to an email or running an untrusted application.
Brock ITS advises caution when downloading email attachments. If in doubt, forward emails with attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the validity of the files.
Tips for preventing cyberattacks
- Always install anti-virus software and keep anti-virus software updated.
- Ensure updates and patches on your devices are up to date.
- Back up important information.
- Avoid suspicious websites or application sources.
- Do not open attached files from unknown sources.
- Be wary of downloading and using any software on your devices.
- Be wary of emails urging you to open, reply or click something.
- Be wary of emails offering employment offers or deals that may seem too good to be true.
- Be wary of clicking any website links.
- Before clicking on links, always check the destination of the link by hovering over it with a mouse, or if on mobile, doing a long press over the link.
- If something seems odd, trust your instincts and confirm with others.
Brock faculty, staff, librarians and students who suspect their devices or accounts have been compromised should contact the ITS Help Desk at 905-688-5550 xHELP (4357) or email email@example.com
For more information on cybersecurity awareness, visit the ITS website.