Information Security Office events promote awareness of cybersecurity

Bethany Stork

UT has more than 350,000 devices on the campus Wi-Fi network and experiences millions of cybersecurity attacks each day, according to the UT Information Security Office.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which takes place every October, is an effort to make Americans safer by raising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website. Cam Beasley, chief information security officer of the UT Information Security Office, said good cybersecurity practices are important for students to have because of their increased reliance on technology and decreased privacy on social media.

“Students don’t generally think they could be a target of a cyberattack,” Beasley said in an email. “Privacy isn’t necessarily as much of a priority as it could be.”

Beasley said the Information Security Office has identified and reported 2,240 compromised student accounts and 582 compromised student computers so far this year. 

Mathematics sophomore Blake Turney, who assists students at the UT IT desk, said cybersecurity concerns are brought to the IT desk fairly often.

“The UT Wi-Fi actually locks students out of their accounts when a virus or abnormality is detected,” Turney said. “They need to come to the IT desk for us to set them up with finding a virus scanner or virus protection.”

Natural sciences freshman Josie Fleming was a three-year participant in CyberPatriot, which features a nation-wide competition where teams are challenged to secure virtual networks. Fleming, whose team earned the top-ranking tier position during the competition, said the program helped her understand cybersecurity.

“A common misconception is how difficult cybersecurity is,” Fleming said. “It’s pretty easy for regular people to be safe. The two main things are just to keep up with (computer) updates and have secure passwords that differ from website to website.”

Throughout the month of October, the Information Security Office is hosting four events to help boost student knowledge and celebrate becoming vigilant, according to the office’s website. Students register in advance for the events, which will offer free pizza to attendees. Students can meet security experts and attempt to protect Matthew McConaughey’s twitter in an interactive game as a part of the events.

“A rational distrust of most things will serve students very well when it comes to technology,” Beasley said. “Question how services you regularly use access and control your personal data. In many cases, you are not simply a user of the service — you are the commodity.”