Cyber Security Awareness

Cybersecurity Lock Logo - Awareness, protect yourself.

*** Click here for more information on reporting a Phishing attack *** 

When you come to college, you’re taking on many responsibilities, making your own decisions, and becoming part of the campus community. There is an important role that you can play in our college's cybersecurity efforts that combines these elements of responsibility, decision-making, and community.

When you’re in college, your computer and mobile devices are primary tools in your educational and social life. Students use the Internet for homework, research, social networking, online shopping and other activities.

The Internet is an amazing tool, but must be used safely and securely.

When you log on to the Mohawk campus network, what you do online could impact not only your computer, but other students and the network as well. By combining up-to-date security tools with good judgment, you and your college community are much less likely to encounter a security violation, loss of data, or system problems.


Mohawks network safety Tips

Keep a Clean Machine

Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defences against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.

Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

Plug and scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal Information

Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.

Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.

Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.

Connect With Care

When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.

Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Be Web Wise

Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.

Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.

Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Be a Good Online Citizen

Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.

Post only about others as you have them post about you.

Phishing Scams

Have you ever received an e-mail with a random link? Or an E-mail from a company asking you to reset your password to an account with a specific website address?

These are likely phishing messages. Phishing messages are messages specifically crafted to look and feel like a real company that you already know and trust – but they are not legitimate e-mails. They are typically sent by a cyber-criminal trying to gain access to your accounts, company, or steal your personal information and gain access to your bank accounts.

Some of the more common phishing scams are as follows:

  • You're asked to validate your account by following a link.
  • You're told there's a problem with your current account.
  • You're threatened with action (i.e. closing your account) if you don't respond.

Remember – When in doubt, throw it out!

E-Mails with Attachments

Attachments to e-mails are the number one cause of malicious infections such as ransomware and other viruses. Cyber-criminals send millions of messages per day baiting unsuspecting individuals to open attachments in their e-mails. These criminals are improving everyday with creating intricate messages that seem legitimate. In many cases information from social media and public organizational information is used to profile the business and create messages on relevant topics using specific individual’s names. These messages are targeted and are referred to as spear phishing.

What can you do to keep Mohawk and your family safe?

When receiving e-mails with attachments always be very careful to trust the message and the attachment before opening the attachment. It is best to exercise caution when receiving attachments.

Prior to opening an attachment ask yourself these questions:

  • Was I expecting this message?
  • Do I know the sender?
  • Is this truly the senders e-mail address?
  • Does this look similar to other messages that the sender has sent me?
  • Am I familiar with the file extension? (Dangerous file extensions: .docm, xlsm, .pptm, .msi, .bat, .com, .cmd, .hta, .scr, .pif, .reg, .js, .vbs, .wsf, .cpl, .jar, and many more)

What can you do if you are suspicious about an attachment?

  • Call the sender of the message on the phone – ask them if they sent you the message.
  • Contact the Mohawk College IT Helpdesk to inquire their advice.
  • When in doubt – Throw it out!

Passwords and Securing Your Accounts

Passwords are like keys to your personal home online. You should do everything you can prevent people from gaining access to your password. You can also further secure your accounts by using additional authentication methods.

Passwords

Passwords can be inconvenient, but they’re important if you want to keep your information safe. Take security precautions, think about the consequences of your actions online and enjoy the Internet with peace of mind. Here are some simple ways to secure your accounts through better password practices.

  • Make your password strong: A strong password is a password that has uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure your password is longer than 8 characters.
  • Change your password regularly: Reset your passwords on systems at least once a year.
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a service like a password manager to keep track of your passwords.

Other Ways to Secure an Account

Typing a username and password into a website isn't the only way to identify yourself on the web services you use.

  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication – on accounts where available. Two-factor authentication can use anything from a text message to your phone to a token to a biometric like your fingerprint to provide enhanced account security.

Over time, more websites will be adopting multi-factor authentication. In some cases, the services may be available but are not required.

Many email services offer two-step verification on an opt-in basis. Ask your financial institution, email provider and other online services if they offer multi-factor authentication or additional ways to verify your identity.

Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social networks have become an integral part of online lives. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post.

Have your classmates, friends and family follow these tips to safely enjoy social networking:

  • Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
  • Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
  • Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.
  • Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
  • Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know you trust) more synched up with your daily life.
  • Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.
  • Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

Protect Yourself with these Tips

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defence against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Make your password strong: A strong password is a password that has uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure your password is longer than 8 characters.
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Post only about others as you have them post about you. The Golden Rule applies online as well.

Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to your campus Helpdesk at 905-575-2199 or helpdesk [at] mohawkcollege.ca

Mohawks Cyber Security Awareness Month messaging has been provided by the following campaigns. For more great cyber security resources visit the following sites: