U.Va. Group Plans Info Sessions to Mark Cyber Security Awareness Month

September 29, 2010

During October – the seventh annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month – the University of Virginia's Information Security, Policy and Records Management Office will hold four sessions for faculty, staff and students on improving computer security both at work and at home.

•    Oct. 4, 1-2 p.m., Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room
•    Oct. 12, 11 a.m.-noon, Newcomb Hall South Meeting Room
•    Oct. 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room
•    Oct. 28, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room

Everyone in the U.Va. community is invited to attend and learn how to protect their home and office computers, smart phones (especially when banking online) and social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). Participants will also learn how to use the Internet safely and and prevent identity theft.

Snacks will be provided, and those who come might win a door prize – a Dell mini-computer or U.Va. football tickets for games against the University of North Carolina and Eastern Michigan University.

Cyber security awareness carries more urgency this year, Karen McDowell, a U.Va.  information security analyst, said. President Obama has created the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education in response to cyber threats, which he calls the "most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. ... America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security."

NICE plans to teach citizens to use computers safely by elevating the nation’s awareness of cyber security. This first year NICE is creating a Cyber Teen Advisory Board, designed to engage teens to reach their peers, and a Cyber Citizen Ambassador Program, which will enable target audiences at all levels to have an impact in their communities while being part of larger national effort. It will also host cyber security forums and coalitions across the country to engage the public and private sectors.

McDowell said people can take very simple actions to protect themselves online. "Be wary, for example, of links in web browser pop-up windows," she said.

McDowell, who can sometimes be spotted around Grounds in her fish costume to raise awareness of "phishing," added, "Never give your personal information unless you initiate the communication. If you call your bank or other financial institution, you know it's not a trick or lure."

E-mail McDowell at krm6r@virginia.edu for information about the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education and related activities.