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A few simple actions make it easy to stay safe online

It's easy to stay safe online.

In fact, a few simple actions can make a big difference toward securing your data and devices — we are not powerless against online threats and attacks.

To help U community members avoid and combat cyberthreats, the University of Utah’s Information Security Office (ISO) will share some IT security best practices and resources this October for Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CAM). CAM is an annual initiative to ensure people have the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. This is the ninth year the university has participated in the initiative and the fourth year it has been a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion.

“We want to empower students, faculty, and staff to take control of their online lives,” said Michael Adair, senior information security analyst for the ISO’s Governance, Risk, & Compliance (GRC) team.

This year’s CAM topics include securing your online accounts, updating your systems and software, and learning to recognize and report phishing.

“All the Cybersecurity Awareness Month topics, while not new, are fundamental to information security and staying safe online,” Adair said.

He likened account security to locking your front door, helping to keep out intruders. System and software updates, which he said people sometimes overlook, help to protect against vulnerabilities that criminals can leverage to gain access to your data and devices.

Phishing, however, remains the most prevalent cybercrime, measured by the number of victims and dollars lost. Adair said about one-third of cyberattacks begin with phishing and that threat actors constantly try new and tried-and-true tactics to trick you. For instance, many criminals use social engineering to prey on our emotions or create a sense of urgency to get us to open a malicious link or provide personal information. Anyone can fall victim to such methods.

“Phishing will broaden and transform as electronic communications change — from text messaging to social media,” Adair said. “Already, we're seeing more pernicious phishing campaigns.”

That’s why it’s important to check in and brush up on our cybersecurity habits.

“Sometimes, we think that we know all this stuff, but as technology evolves, so do cyberthreats. So, IT fundamentals — and best practices — must also evolve, making it necessary for us to review our habits and safeguards from time to time,” he said.


October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The U’s Information Security Office (ISO) asks students, faculty, and staff to identify opportunities to improve their cybersecurity habits and implement stronger security practices. We’ll provide the resources to help you along the way.

For this year’s resources, please visit the 2022 Cybersecurity Awareness Month website. Topics include:

The ISO will also share tips and resources throughout the month on Twitter. Follow @uofu_iso, as well as #BeCyberSmart and #BeIdentitySmart, to join the conversation.

To learn more about how to identify, avoid, and report phishing, please visit the Phish Tank website.