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NCSAM: It's our shared responsibility to stay safe online

By Larrisa Beth Turner

It's been 30 years since the Morris worm — one of the earliest recorded cyberattacks — spurred the creation of the computer emergency response team (CERT) and sparked some of the first conversations about cybersecurity. While the creator of the Morris worm did not write the program to cause damage, those behind modern cyberattacks often intend to do harm.

That's why, now more than ever, such conversations are so necessary.

For the fifth year, University Information Technology (UIT) is participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), an annual, nationwide initiative sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and National Cyber Security Alliance to ensure people have the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.

"Knowing is half the battle," Chief Information Security Officer Randy Arvay said, recalling the old G.I. Joe catchphrase. "That might be a bit simplistic, but having the awareness of what’s going on in cyberspace and understanding measures to mitigate those threats goes a long way to keeping everyone safe online."

At the University of Utah, UIT's Information Security Office (ISO) shoulders most of that responsibility. Arvay said ISO helps protect the U community through a number of measures, which include staffing a Security Operations Center (SOC) 24/7 to monitor and act on threats within the U's network; working with government agencies to identify other potential threats; monitoring threat boards and breach announcements from other organizations; and alerting users to potential compromises of their information.

Arvay equates the effort to a "neighborhood watch."

"We are watching inside and outside of our enterprise to help make our students, faculty, and staff more secure," he said.

ISO, however, is only one line of defense for the U community. When it comes to online safety, Arvay said we all have a shared responsibility to protect our information — at work and at home.

"If each of us does our part — implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating young people or training employees — together we will be a digital society safer and more resistant from attacks and more resilient if an attack occurs," StaySafeOnline.org says.

This October, consider taking a few moments to visit UIT's NCSAM website and checking up on your cyber hygiene. Topics include:

Week 1: The Basics of Information Security

Week 2: U Policies on Network and Physical Security

Week 3: Education and Jobs in Cybersecurity at the U

Week 4: Cybersecurity Training for U Employees

Last Updated: 9/25/19