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Awareness helps protect information online

Information Technology Services (ITS) has joined the National Cyber Security Awareness Month campaign by introducing the Cyber Security Awareness 2007 Web site.

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Information Technology Services (ITS) has joined the National Cyber Security Awareness Month campaign by introducing the Cyber Security Awareness 2007 Web site.

The site provides a number of articles on Internet safety as well as weekly online quizzes to test awareness of common security practices. These tools are aimed at delivering secure services to the students, faculty and staff of the university.

The cyber security initiative started with SecureTexas, a site that provides up-to-date technology tips to help citizens strengthen the Texas technology infrastructure. In 2005, Governor Rick Perry, along with other state governors, signed a proclamation to promote cyber security preparedness and support.

“The digital age increases communication and provides so many options to students,” said Betsy Busby, ITS communications coordinator. “Students need to be smart and protect themselves from scams and other security threats.”

ITS partnered with Student Government, the Information Security Office (ISO) and the university’s Police Department to coordinate Cyber Security Awareness Month at the university.

“The idea is to get the word out to students using personal stories so that it matters to the individual,” Busby said.

According to the ISO, common computer problems students have are viruses from peer-to-peer file sharing, e-mail links and instant messaging. The perils of these file-sharing procedures are lost personal data, exposure to illegal material, wasted bandwidth, viruses and diminished computer performance.

“We provide BevoWare at no cost so students can download anti spyware, antivirus software and other helpful resources to keep their computers as safe as they can,” said Mehran Poursmaeili, ITS senior graphic designer.

Another common security problem at the university is spam.

“The filter is built into the UT Web mail system and it filters about 90 percent of spam. However, a lot of people target university addresses because students check their e-mail often,” Poursmaeili said. “ITS established the ‘restricted.utexas.edu’ wireless network to protect your data as they move across the wireless portion of the campus network. We provide this service so people can use the wireless network on campus in an authenticated way, making sure that your communication is secure.”

Many students, faculty and staff are members of social networks like Myspace and Facebook. These social networks could pose a series of problems for students in the future because many employers are referring to these networks when recruiting.

“Paying attention to the license agreements and policies on social networks like Facebook is really important,” Busby said. “Students should think of Facebook as their resume.”

There are many tips on how to keep computers safe and downloading BevoWare is one that the ITS staff said is important to remember and use.

Poursmaeili also advises students to keep their information safe during online transactions. Most reputable sites have an “https” lock that ensures that information exchanged, such as credit card payments, is kept private.