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Stay Cybersafe

With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the UNLV Information Security Office shares weekly tips to defend against cybercrime.

OIT News  |  Oct 6, 2021  |  By Nicole Johnson
Person looking at a laptop computer

Follow the UNLV Office of Information Technology's social media, including Instagram and Twitter, for helpful information on how to protect personal and business information from scammers. (Rakitha Perera/UNLV OIT)

Cybercriminals stole $44 million from Nevadans last year, according to a report from the FBI, and that number could rise this year if people let their guard down.

“Thieves are creative and relentless,” said Vito Rocco, Interim Chief Information Security Officer at UNLV. “They are constantly looking for new ways to exploit victims, and it is critical that everyone remains vigilant online.” 

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month
With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the UNLV Information Security Office (ISO), which monitors and blocks cybersecurity threats for the university, is showing students and employees what it means to be cybersafe.

This month's plans include weekly tips posted on the UNLV Office of Information Technology’s social media, including Instagram and Twitter, that share password best practices, secure network tips, and phishing tactics, where no fishing pun is spared.

The timing comes as a recent surge in phishing and ransomware attacks, like the shutdown of a major gasoline pipeline in the U.S., can be attributed to a 38 percent increase in U.S. data breaches earlier this year, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported.

First Line of Defense Against Cyberattacks
Rocco says people are the first line of defense against cybersecurity threats. To help them identify potential scams, UNLV trains employees annually on cybersecurity issues and encourages them to report suspicious emails or data breaches. 

“We also stress the importance of good cybersecurity habits with students,” said Rocco. “They should use the secure campus WiFi, refrain from clicking strange links, and create strong passwords for their accounts.”

Leaked logins and passwords are likely the culprit for cybercrooks gaining access to sensitive data from a company and holding it hostage until they get paid. Coveware found that the average ransomware payout grew from less than $10,000 in 2018 to over $233,000 in 2020.

To help prevent data theft, Rocco says the biggest thing people can do is set up two-step verification on their accounts.

“It adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to confirm their identity, through an authenticator app or code texted to their phone, to gain access to their accounts or applications,” he explained.

Continue Cybersecurity Education and Awareness
Other opportunities are available to individuals who like to learn more about cybersecurity, even make a career out of it.

UNLV touts a nationally recognized cybersecurity program, where they are preparing the next generation of cyber defense professionals, and offers a cybersecurity bootcamp for students looking to freshen their skills. The ISO is also launching a liaison program soon, giving employees a chance to be cybersecurity ambassadors for the campus.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a special reminder for people to protect themselves from cybercrime. Rocco says that education and awareness should not stop after October.

“Cybercriminals are constantly switching their tactics to target victims,” he said. “It is up to all of us to continuously learn how to respond to these evolving, nefarious acts and protect personal and business information from getting into the wrong hands.”

Everyone must do their part to stay cybersafe.