Students encouraged to increase cybersecurity measures

April 21, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's Office of Information Security (OIS) encourages students to protect their personal information by increasing cybersecurity measures. Doing so will also help keep important University information and systems secure.

Increased security is particularly important during this period of remote learning, OIS said. The office has already seen a surge in phishing victims, with 2,500 detected in the last three months. Last year, the total number of attacks detected for the entire year was 3,500.

Fortunately, adopting these best practices can help drastically reduce your risk of cyberattack.

1. Enroll in Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). 2FA helps verify your identity each time you log in to a Penn State site or system using WebAccess by sending a push notification to a separate authorized device. All students will be required to enroll in 2FA by May 12, but OIS recommends enrolling as soon as possible. It typically takes less than 10 minutes to enroll, and faculty and staff are already using 2FA to protect their accounts and Penn State systems.

2. Watch out for phishing attempts. Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal information with a fake email message or call. Be alert as these scams are on the rise — especially messages related to COVID-19 — and attackers will often pose as a person you know or trust. To learn more about phishing attempts or report an incident, visit phishing.psu.edu.

3. Protect your systems and devices. To help keep your digital information and systems secure, remember to make sure anti-virus software is installed and running, and regularly update your operating system and enable its firewall. Be aware of your physical devices also: never leave them unattended, and make sure every device you use is password protected.

4. Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is less secure and can pose a significant security risk to both your personal device and any systems you access. Always connect to a protected network when available, use a personal hotspot, or use a virtual private network (VPN) if you must use public Wi-Fi.

5. Use Penn State-approved video conferencing applications. These include Zoom, which provides a number of collaboration tools, and Microsoft Teams, which is offered to Penn State students at no cost as part of the Office 365 suite of applications.

For additional guidance or support, contact the Office of Information Security at security@psu.edu.

Last Updated April 21, 2020