Oct. 30, 2017

Cyber Security Month brought to Cleveland State by Information Services & Tech

Every October, Cleveland State University’s Department of Information Services and Technology (IS&T) provides students and staff with useful tips to stay safe online.

The month-long campaign is part of an initiative started by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which, in 2004, declared October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Every week in October, Vikings on and around campus have received emails with simple recommendations to ensure users’ safety. 

For example, the week three email suggested that users “outsmart the hackers” by using fake answers to familiar security questions.

“The name of your first pet isn’t really a secret anymore,” said Mike Holstein, manager of data and network security in IS&T.

“This campaign is to remind people what to do and how to be safe,” Holstein continued.  “How to create good passwords, how to make it hard for people to use stolen identity information, how to protect identity data.”

Holstein and a staff of three other people handle security for roughly 30,000 user devices throughout campus. 

“The data security job never ends,” said William Wilson, Chief Information Officer for Cleveland State. “Because we have such a dynamic population, we add and subtract new users every semester, making each semester a challenge to stay secure.”

Both Holstein and Wilson emphasized the challenges in keeping a campus the size of Cleveland State secure.

“Universities have unique challenges because we don’t operate like a bank,” Holstein said.  “We operate as an open research institution, and both professors and students need the internet to be accessible.  We don’t want to be the internet police.”

Although IS&T makes every effort to protect campus users, most of the responsibility falls on the user.

“We can build all of the fancy shiny stuff in the world and all of the brain power that can go into making a network secure will all fall flat if the user doesn’t participate in the best practices.  Because the user is the integral link in the chain,” Holstein said.

Over the course of the past 15 years, there haven’t been any major incidents at Cleveland State.  IS&T goes through an annual audit and has passed nine out of the past nine years.

“Last year we hired a firm to do a formal cyber security assessment, and they ranked us above our peer group,” Wilson said.

IS&T will continue to inform campus Vikings every October about cyber security, but Holstein and Wilson don’t want users to forget that cyber security personnel are accessible year round.

“We want to stress that IS&T is always here,” Holstein said.  “People are always welcome to send us suspicious activity or ask questions before they reply to something suspicious.  We will get back to people very quickly and let them know if it is legitimate.”

You can reach the whole IS&T security team at security@csuohio.edu.  The IS&T website also has helpful links and tips for those interested in learning more about cyber security and how it affects the Cleveland State Community.


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