October 08, 2020

How to keep your devices secure while using the internet

As a part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is sharing information and resources to raise awareness about cybersecurity threats and increase resiliency against them. 

It takes just one email for cyber criminals to entice or fool unsuspecting users into supplying personal information, credentials and/or sensitive data. The OIT is diligent in its effort to keep SIU faculty, staff, and students well informed and in turn safe from cyberattack. 

Here are several recommendations to increase security for your credentials and accounts. 

Use strong passwords. Passwords are a user’s first line of defense. The stronger a password is, the stronger the defense. At SIU, users are required to use passwords that:

  • Are 16 characters or longer.
  • Have at least one special character, such as ?.[]{}-!+*_~
  • Include upper- and lower-case letters.
  • Are in the form of a passphrase (a unique phrase that you will remember). 

To strengthen your sign-in credentials (your username and password), multi-factor authentication (MFA) is now available. MFA adds a second step to the sign-in process and an extra layer of security anytime users access SIU systems or software. All SIU faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to sign up for MFA now. In January 2021, MFA will be required, and those who have not enrolled will lose access to SIU technology tools and services.  

Use the VPN when accessing public Wi-Fi. VPNs (virtual private networks) provide an extra level of security and anonymity by hiding your browsing history, IP address and location. The OIT provides VPN access for SIU faculty, staff and students who need it to complete their work or assignments. Visit OIT’s Network Engineering website to find out more and request VPN access.  

Think before you click. If an email you are not expecting includes a link or an attachment, think twice before clicking. Hover above the attachment or link to reveal the URL; where is it pointing? If the document name or URL does not seem consistent with the email’s purpose or the sender, delete it.  

Do not post or provide personal information. Cyber criminals are constantly looking for information to crack passwords and security questions; do not give it to them. SIU will never ask you to provide your username, password, Social Security number or other personal or sensitive information in an email. If you receive an email that asks for this information, report it by clicking the Report Suspicious Phishing button (top right corner of the screen) in Outlook or call/email SalukiTech.  

Users are encouraged to reach out to SalukiTech at 618-453-5155 if they have any questions or security-related concerns.