Online Safety Tips During and After COVID-19

COVID-19 has temporarily changed the way we work and learn. Most of our colleagues now work through remote access and in-person classes have moved on to online learning. These transitions have increased online activities and cybercriminals have taken note.

The IT team has done a phenomenal job in this transition.  We have however, noticed elevated threat levels in targeted Phishing activities, DDOS and Ransomware attacks.

We are committed to address these threats as they appear and help everyone to remain safe during your online activities by mitigating the actions of these bad actors.  Most scams are targeted at individuals and are mostly initiated via emails or social networks, to steal your personal information and prey on your vulnerabilities by attempting to sell virus prevention tools, request for Coronavirus donations or pretend to be someone you know who happens to be stranded and needed immediate assistance by requesting that gift cards be sent over to them.

We therefore urge everyone to be extra vigilant and at the minimum, observe the following online safety tips:

  • Pay Close Attention: The bad actors continue to improve their craft by creating malicious websites that are identical to the legitimate sites or email addresses that appear to have come from someone you know. Check the URL or address carefully to identify the clever variations. For example, an email from johnD@middlesex.mass.edu.gmail.com could easily pass as a ‘John Doe’ colleague in MCC, but look carefully and you can tell this is a gmail email address cleverly presented as an MCC email to scam! BTW, this is a real incident we dealt with recently.
  • Apply the skills of Social Networks 101:
    • Don’t reveal too much information about yourself on social media
    • Don’t bully others and don’t respond to bullies, initiate an action to report instead
    • Use direct messages for the right reasons
    • Do your research before posting on social network platforms or the use of hashtags
    • Great to have a large number of follows and huge numbers of likes each time you post of comment but remember that you will also be attracting the wrong set of individuals to your person as well.
  • Free Public Wi-Fi could come with a ‘payload’: There are two types of free public Wi-Fi. One that is offered to customers for convenient Internet access but the hosts generally do not expend additional investment in securing them. The use of an open Wi-Fi means your activities can easily be tracked and information stolen. The other type of free Wi-Fi is hosted by bad actors specifically to harvest your information and leverage such data for immediate or future attacks.
  • Your Data has great financial value! All the leading browsers have the option to enable Private Browsing. Enable the Private Browsing Mode at all times for your safety.
  • Good Security comes with applying regular O/S and Anti-virus Updates: Updates are pushed out by device manufacturers and Anti-Virus vendors in order to make your devices resilient and address newly discovered security vulnerabilities. It is therefore important to apply all updates and make sure an Anti-Virus software is installed. Microsoft Windows PCs come with a built-in Microsoft Defender Anti-Virus that is relatively adequate for this purpose. Make sure it is enabled.
  • Data Security, What Data Security? Most often than not the data on your devices are more valuable than the replacement cost of the device itself. It is therefore critical to secure your data and have an alternative means of retrieving them in the event of loss.
    • Students and Faculty are therefore encouraged to store their class-related documents/works and other valuable data on the cloud in addition to the local drive. MCC students have free access to O365 and free MS OneDrive storage for this purpose. If you have not done so already, please take steps to set up this useful and flexible storage media and enable it to sync with your devices.
    • Staff working remotely should endeavor to separate their personal data from College data at all times. All college data must be stored on the network share which provides enterprise-grade security and back-ups.

Once again, your online safety is our priority and if you have any questions, please email us at: servicedesk@middlesex.mass.edu.

 

Last Modified: 4/1/20