Cybersecurity conference discusses K-State’s protection from spam, hackers

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Dalton Joyce, Architectural Engineering freshman, works on a computer at Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. on Oct. 5, 2017. (Photo by Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Betsy Draper, associate vice provost in Information Technology Services, led a brief web conference Wednesday to discuss online safety and how K-State plans to help students be the first line of defense against online attacks.

Draper kicked off the conversation by pulling up an elaborate slideshow that explained in depth all the ways K-State is affected by cyberattacks and how the university can defend itself from online spam and hackers.

Throughout the presentation, Draper touched on a few ways K-State is taking initiative to help keep students’ information safe.

After the cybersecurity breach at Equifax this year, K-State upped its security measures by adding another firewall to immediately detect issues within servers. This offers more protection for students and their online information.

Firewalls and services provided by the IT department can teach students how to be safe online. The presentation also featured tips on how to protect children online.

Draper expressed how important it is for students to understand that they are the first line of defense in order to keep themselves safe.

“Too often do we see kids’ information being attacked without their knowledge, because parents haven’t explained to them how to be safe online,” Draper said.

A common online attack against students is known as “phishing,” or fraudulent emails that attempt to coax victims into giving away personal information.

Draper suggested all students who receive phishing emails should contact the help desk at [email protected]. The staff can trace where the spam emails come from, and then change the student’s email address.

Betsy Edwards, web information specialist in ITS, also attended the web conference and said students should always back up their data to protect from losing their information in the event of an online attack. However, students are not taught how to do this.

Edwards said there are flaws within the system, but the IT department is working as quickly as possible to make sure all the students have access to assistance.

“I think it is really important to ensure our school’s web security because hackers are everywhere,” Sarah Gustin, sophomore in agricultural economics, said.

At the end of the conference, Draper explained how to navigate the ITS page and where all of the cybersecurity resources are.

Any students who are receiving phishing emails or having trouble with their account can go to K-State’s IT troubleshooting page and let ITS know by emailing [email protected].

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