“Why would someone target me?” Austin Kleineschay, president of the Cyber Security and Forensic Student Organization (CSFSO), said that’s a common question about cyberattacks. The message of CSFSO’s annual internet security workshop: we are all potential targets for hackers and cyber criminals.
The “Think Safe, Be Safe,” workshop focused on security problems and possible solutions. It was held Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Jason R. Carter Science Education Center. Community members, students and faculty attended.
Kleineschay opened the event with a discussion of current internet security threats. He challenged everyone to imagine what could happen if a cyber criminal accessed their photos, emails, passwords, bank accounts and credit card numbers. Offenders might not even be human, as “bots” can find a computer’s security weaknesses, Kleineschay said.
“Security bugs will always exist, humans are fallible,” said Kleineschay. The threat of viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware and malware persist, but there are things computer users can do to stay safe.
Besides using firewalls, Kleineschay suggested installing software updates and security patches as soon as they become available. He recommended using Flexera Personal Software Inspector. This security scanner identifies when an operating system component, browser or application needs an update. It also provides links so a person can update their computer quickly.
Andrew Schmitt, community faculty member in Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), spoke about identity theft. In his presentation, he showed how a simple everyday conversation can give a criminal the facts they need to answer someone’s security questions. Thieves can use another person’s identity to secure mortgage loans or credit cards. He noted the emotional impact, credit rating problems, and the financial loss to victims of identity theft.
Schmitt encouraged everyone to be aware of instances where their private information could be at risk. He recommended proactive approaches to protecting your identity. They included using prepaid cards for online purchases, monitoring credit scores and requesting a credit freeze. He also noted the website haveibeenpwned.com, created by Troy Hunt, Australian web security expert. The website can identify if an email address is associated with a data breach, and whether the person’s credit card number, username, password or password hint may be at risk.
Many individuals make the mistake of using the same password for every application, Schmitt said. For those that use multiple passwords, it can be difficult to remember all of them. A password manager does all of this work for a user. It creates a long, unique password for every application and it requires the user to remember only one password. LastPass is one example of a free or inexpensive password manager. Schmitt recommended this product for its cloud-based capabilities.
Students and alumni also presented at the workshop. Chris Crayne, a CSFSO member, provided his top 12 tips for mobile device security. Computer Science students Angela Hary and Tsion Mekonnen discussed secure web browsing, and the important difference between HTTP and HTTPS web addresses.
“The threats are many, but so are our ways to prevent them,” said Joe Klein, an alumnus of Metro State alumnus, in his presentation on social engineering and phishing.
Attendees also were invited to bring their personal devices to the event for free security checkups. CSFSO members provided services like cleaning devices of threats and setting up password managers.
In addition to their educational events, Cyber Security and Forensics Student Organization members represent Metro State in cyber defense competitions. They won the 2017 title at the Minnesota Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. In 2016, they were awarded “Student Organization of the Year” at the President’s Student Leadership Awards ceremony. For more information on CSFSO, see orgsync.com/106405/chapter.