An October campaign is hoping to convince students to have “the talk” with their parents. No, not that one. The one about cybersecurity.
“College students are the perfect example to sit down with their parents to talk about the facts of tech,” said Russ Schrader, the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Utah Valley University is the first institution of higher education to partner with the National Cyber Security Alliance to pilot a “Hacktober” campaign.
Hacktober, which runs through the month of October and was pioneered by Facebook, aims to increase awareness and education about cybersecurity. UVU’s Hacktober includes events such as a cybersecurity check-up, a panel discussion, a lock-picking demonstration and a capture the flag event.
It’s the second cybersecurity campaign UVU has run. Last year, it promoted the Lock Down Your Login campaign, which sought out to discover what students and UVU employees knew about cybersecurity and if they wanted to learn how to protect their data. Lock Down Your Login occurred simultaneously with the rollout of mandatory, multifactor authentication for faculty and optional multifactor authentication for students on the Duo platform.
The National Cyber Security Alliance hopes to extend the pilot to more colleges and universities.
“It is nice that they are willing to go out there and be the first,” Schrader said.
Schrader said college students are the perfect generation to bring home the message of cybersecurity because they’re at a place in their lives where they are achieving things and gaining a sense of self. They’re also more tech savvy than their parents.
This means they value speed and access, but not always their security.
A recent Facebook security breach that meant hackers could have seen information for at least 50 million users has hit home for students, according to Robert Jorgensen, the program director of UVU’s cybersecurity programs. He explains to students that if a hacker gets access to an email address or a social media account linked to other accounts, they can access hijack a user’s online life — or worse.
“The idea of having your bank account wiped out really hits home,” Jorgensen said.
He’s seen increasing interest in UVU’s cybersecurity programs. The university launched the state’s first master’s degree in cybersecurity in 2017, and Jorgensen said he’s seeing students in other fields who are interested in taking a specific class or two.
He recommends for people to talk about passwords and compares doing a security check-up to checking a smoke detector when daylight saving time begins or ends.
Schrader said a good way to keep accounts safe is to enable multifactor authentication, which uses more than one way to verify a user’s identity, like texting the user a code to input after they’ve entered their password.
He also recommends softwares that can help keep passwords secure. Passwords should use at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letter, a number and a special sign. Schrader said using a passphrase (like Maryhad1littlelamb?) to create a secure password that’s easy to remember.