All posts by Will Schuett

Information Security To Go!

From Stay Safe Online’s Wireless Safety Tips for Travelers

Many people love the adventure that traveling provides: meeting new people, seeing new places, and having new experiences are part of the allure. Technology makes it easier than ever to satisfy our wanderlust. We can use our connected devices to discover the exotic locales we wish to visit, book tickets on planes and trains, practice driving virtually, and seamlessly navigate once we get to our final destination. For all this ease that technology brings, we should prepare our technology for travel as carefully as we plan our travel itineraries.

Travel tips

  • Back-up your data! Backing up your data ensures that you won’t lose information if your device is lost or stolen. Consider encrypting your data as well, but check with your IT support staff first about how best to implement encryption.
  • Protect your devices with a strong password or lengthy passcode. Sometimes devices get lost or stolen, even when we are being careful. By protecting your device with a passcode or lengthy password, you make it harder for your device to be used and data to be accessed by others.
  • Make sure your devices and applications are up to date. Keep your applications and devices up to date and patched. This helps protect your device and data from security vulnerabilities and threats.
  • Just say no to unsecured public Wi-Fi. Having a wireless connection is almost a necessity for the modern traveler. However, using an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot can allow others to view the contents of your electronic activity. Never access your sensitive financial accounts from an unsecured network. If you must access sensitive data from an unsecured network, be sure that you use a VPN service.
  • Double-check your MFA settings. Many of us rely on multifactor authentication (MFA) to secure both personal and work-related accounts. Be sure that you know how (or if) that will work in the countries that you are visiting. For instance, if your MFA relies on SMS, be sure that you will be able to receive that message in the destination that you are visiting. If the option is available to you, consider using a physical token option to ensure you’ll be able to login to your accounts.
  • Update your physical location with your password vault. Many people use password vaults to manage all of their account passwords. Don’t be surprised if your password vault requires additional verification steps when logging into it from a location that is not in your home country. (After all, we count on these vaults to be secure!) Check the vendor documentation or your account settings to make sure that there are no country restrictions or settings that you need to change before your trip. Also double-check that you’re able to access your recovery/secondary email address just in case there is an issue.
  • Consider leaving your daily devices at home. If you are traveling to a location where you are concerned about your individual privacy rights, consider leaving your primary mobile device at home and purchasing a replacement device to take with you instead. Put only the apps, services, and data that you need for that trip on the device. Some businesses and colleges and universities offer programs where a traveler can check out a “clean laptop” when traveling for business purposes. Using these types of devices help limit any exposure of your personal data. Check your data plan as well. A “burner phone” or car GPS may be cheaper.
  • Be smart about posting on social media. It is always fun to post vacation pictures in the moment, but online postings on social networks (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) can let other people know that you are not at home and that your home may be empty. Posting vacation pictures on social media once you are safely home helps protect your physical belongings.
  • Use hotel safes to protect your technology. Here’s another place where there is an overlap between online safety and physical safety. Just like you would put your passport, jewelry, and money in a hotel safe, consider using that safe to hold your electronic devices when you are not carrying them with you. Not only are the devices themselves expensive to replace, your personal data contained in the device can be irreplaceable (especially if you skipped the first tip on this list).
  • Remember your adapters! Make sure you have power adapters that will work with three-prong plugs and that they fit the country’s outlets. Some travel adapters only accept two-prong plugs. (If you’re attending a conference, you may be able to borrow a charging cable temporarily.) Outlets also vary, even, for example, between the UK and Ireland. Your technology gadgets are not very helpful when they run out of charge or cannot be powered on. Charge and take a portable battery pack.
  • Mind your voltage! Like plug types, different parts of the world use different voltages. Make sure that your technology devices can run on the voltage used at your destination. Getting shocked with 220V is not the same as 110V.

As surely as you can reduce wrinkles in your clothing with careful packing, so too can you avoid the most common technology travel woes by preparing before you leave home.

 

From The Barefoot Nomad’s How Not to Fry Your Smartphone Overseas: A Quick Guide

Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2019

This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).


Fall 2019 Information for Students

We hope you had a great summer! Michigan Tech IT wants to keep you informed with things we’ve updated over the past few months.

AppsAnywhere

We have implemented the use of AppsAnywhere to make lab software available in our Windows Labs. AppsAnywhere makes software available to Windows computers through its web-based Application Catalog. It will improve your computer lab experience by maintaining software availability without allocating system resources for software applications you don’t need. It also allows Michigan Tech IT to efficiently update programs.

System Drives Upgraded to SSDs

We have upgraded system drives on our lab systems from standard hard drives to Solid State Drives (SSDs). Greater than 90% of systems now have SSDs.

Duo “Remember Me” Update

We have implemented changes to profiles that allow Duo’s remember me feature. Selecting the checkbox for Duo’s “Remember me for 30 days” option now works on lab and classroom computers.

Knowledge Base

With the help of our customers, we’ve improved our online support center. Our Knowledge Base (KB) has instant answers to common IT issues like printing, wireless, passwords and more. You can browse articles by category or search by keyword. For more detailed information, visit our blog post on how to use the new KB.

Accessible Technology

Michigan Tech IT wants everyone to have access to the technology resources we provide. We follow accessible technology guidelines and procedures to make sure that individuals with visual, hearing, mobility, cognitive, and other disabilities can use our technologies without barriers. Please visit the Accessible Technology website for more information. If you do encounter a technology barrier, please complete the Barrier Reporting form. If you are a student with a disability, please reach out to Student Disability Services.

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Understanding the Basics of Online Safety and Security

Inside your connected home. Protect your always-on family.

Americans use 3,138,420 GB of internet data every minute of the day.

It is safe to say that being online is now a way of life for many. Engaging in safe and secure online practices helps protect against the risks of living life on the internet.

Shopping, surfing, banking, gaming, and connecting Internet of Things devices such as toasters and refrigerators are some of the many actions performed each minute in cyberspace. These common everyday activities carry the cyber threats of social engineering to gain unauthorized access to data, identity theft, bullying, location tracking, and phishing, to name just a few. How can we decrease our risk from these cyber threats without abandoning our online activities altogether? Here are some basic online tips everyone can follow to help stay secure while online.

  • Set up alerts. Consider setting up alerts on your financial accounts. Many credit card companies and banks allow you to set up alerts on your accounts via their websites. These alerts range from sending you an email or text each time a transaction happens on your account to alerts when transactions meet or exceed a designated spending limit that you set. These alerts keep you in control of your accounts’ activities. These types of alerts are useful because they make you aware of what’s going on with your account quicker than waiting for monthly statements. When you receive an alert about a transaction that you did not authorize, you can reach out to the credit card company or bank immediately. Log into your credit card company and banking websites to set up alerts on your accounts.
  • Keep devices and apps up to date. This familiar tip is useful even if you are just casually surfing the internet. Keeping your devices up to date (including apps and operating systems) ensures you have the latest security fixes.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi. In addition to an updated device, the network the device is connected to is also important. Did you have to enter a password to connect to a Wi-Fi network? If you did, that network is more secure than an open one that any device within range can connect to. Whenever possible, use a secure network, especially when banking or shopping online.
  • Consider using a VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network, and its main purpose is to provide a tunnel for encrypted internet traffic. If you are connected to the internet without using a VPN, your traffic is passed through the internet service provider’s servers. The location of your device is known, and if you must connect to a public Wi-Fi network, there is a risk of snooping by other devices on the same network. Connecting to a VPN redirects your internet traffic to a remote server, encrypting the traffic, reducing the snooping risk. There are many options for VPN software today for consumers and businesses. Do your research and decide which one makes sense for your online needs.
  • Create unique passwords. Here’s another familiar tip. Using the same password for many sites is not a best practice. Suppose that one of your accounts suffered a data breach and your password was exposed. If you reused this password on other accounts, it’s likely that someone would be able to access those accounts as well (especially if your user name is an email address). Consider using a password manager to manage all your passwords. Not only do these tools manage all your passwords, they can also create strong passwords and can even autofill your username and password as you go to websites on different browsers.
  • Be vigilant. Be aware, there are fake websites out there waiting to collect your valuable information. Make sure you are on a legitimate site by double-checking the URL website address to make sure it is spelled correctly. Also make sure you see a padlock and https:// in the URL.

Remember that you are in control of your online activities. Following these security tips will give you peace of mind while online.

Additional resources

Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2019

This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).