Keeping Information Security Simple – Be Skeptical and a Little Paranoid

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 3 Washington University Community: “Keep Information Security Simple” has been my motto for nearly a decade. This month, I’d like to share an important thing that everyone can do to improve our security—slow down, just a little bit because haste makes good people fall for bad tricks. In the first […]

Get Inside the Hacker Mindset to Create Stronger Passwords

By Harrison Stites. In the last issue of SECURED, Chris Shull, Chief Information Security Officer, wrote about the importance of passwords. Specifically, Chris emphasized using unique and long passwords for each login to prevent hackers from accessing your accounts. However, for most users, remembering long, unique passwords is not feasible. Today, we will describe the tactics […]

Safety Tips for Back to School (Poster/Graphic)

By Harrison Stites. The Office of Information Security wishes everyone a safe and productive return to the classroom. In support of your return, we want to remind you of a few simple but important security strategies that you can use to protect yourself and your data.  Back-Up Devices Back up your devices and accounts to prevent […]

Protect Yourself from Misinformation

By Harrison Stites. The internet provides a platform for anyone to share information, and legitimate news must fight through the noise of misinformation to reach readers.  Misinformation is false or misleading information created by actors with malicious intent. It is especially dangerous when readers fail to detect its illegitimacy and perpetuate it by sharing it on social […]
Scam of the Month—August 2021

Scam of the Month—August 2021

The Office of Information Security has received reports of a SMiShing campaign targeting students at our institution. SMiShing occurs when cybercriminals use tactics common to phishing campaigns in text messages, attempting to communicate legitimacy to the unsuspecting victim.  The reported SMiShing attempt is posted below. The message sender is posing as someone in a position […]
Meet Your InfoSec Team: Kevin Hardcastle, WashU Associate CISO

Meet Your InfoSec Team: Kevin Hardcastle, WashU Associate CISO

Kevin Hardcastle, a long-time leader in information security has been instrumental in keeping WashU secure. Kevin was first drawn to IT while studying at Missouri State, where he received a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. He has 36 years of experience in information technology, including 21 years of experience in information security. He began […]

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 2

Washington University Community: Thank you for the positive feedback on June’s first issue of our new Information Security Bulletin, “Secured!” If you missed it, you can read it and other articles of interest at https://informationsecurity.wustl.edu/blog/. For almost a decade, I’ve been trying to “Keep Information Security Simple” (KISS) for my clients, employers, and friends. KISS is […]

Workday Security

Washington University recently adopted Workday, a cloud-based software system for managing finances, human resources, and planning. The new system provides a single, integrated system for managing multiple facets of daily operations at WashU.  WashU takes the security of your data and our systems seriously. Therefore, the system that we use to manage sensitive information such […]

How to use your source-checking skills to stay safe from phishing

By Harrison Stites According to IC3, an FBI subsidiary, 241,342 Americans were victims of successful phishing attacks in 2020. The tactics used in phishing continue to evolve with the intent of getting you to divulge sensitive information or download malicious attachments. However, you already possess the skills to prevent phishing attacks and stay safe online. […]

Save, Secure, and Share with Box and OneDrive

Institutions such as Washington University have incredible data storage and transfer needs. Members of our community are continuously engaged in research, teaching, and patient care, producing large quantities of data that need secure storage as well as accessibility. Further, the COVID-19 remote-work era has demonstrated the need for file access from multiple devices, in multiple […]

Phishing 101

Email phishing has long been the method of choice for many cybercriminals who seek to exploit vulnerabilities for personal gain. These attacks are continually revised and refreshed to take advantage of current trends and new strategies used to socially engineer their victims.  Phishing works so well because it takes advantage of human emotion, convincing unsuspecting […]

Scam of the Month—July 2021

Before we get to our Scam of the Month for July, we wanted to take a minute to say thanks to one of our readers who took the time to reach out and provide some additional clues from last month’s column. Here is a link to our post from last month: https://informationsecurity.wustl.edu/scam-of-the-month-june-2021/ Our reader points out […]
Don’t Let Digital Highwaymen Spoil Your Summer Adventures

Don’t Let Digital Highwaymen Spoil Your Summer Adventures

After more than a year of remote work and learning, summer vacation is calling, and families are ready to roam! According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 47.7 million Americans will travel this Independence Day (July 1-5) ( Hall 2021 ), a 40% increase in travel volume over last year. Most travelers (43.6 […]

Avoiding Workday Phishing Scams

Washington University will soon adopt Workday, a cloud-based software system for managing finances, human resources, and planning. The new system provides a single, integrated system for managing multiple facets of daily operations at WashU. Background WashU takes the security of your data and our systems seriously. Therefore, the system that we use to manage sensitive […]

Meet Your Infosec Team: Chief Information Security Officer, Chris Shull

On June 1, 2021, Chris Shull assumed the role of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Washington University in St. Louis. He comes to WashU from Huron Consulting Group, which is working on several other projects at WashU. Chris has joined Joe Susai, the CISO for the School of Medicine, and Kevin Hardcastle, Associate CISO […]

Scam of the Month—June 2021

In each issue of the newsletter, we will feature, discuss, and dissect a scam that has appeared on our campus. These scams are “real” attempts to infiltrate our systems and/or gain access to sensitive and personal information of individuals in our community. By sharing these examples with our readers, we hope to enhance your awareness […]

The Office of Information Security (OIS) is Your Ally in the Cybercrime Arms Race

Educational institutions such as WashU are prime targets for cybercriminals who use ever-evolving tactics to infiltrate systems, steal data, block access, and demand ransoms under the threat that they will publish sensitive data online. Universities operating medical centers are especially vulnerable, as they manage large amounts of sensitive patient health data. According to the Ponemon Institute, […]

Social Engineering Red Flags

Phishing, the practice of sending fraudulent emails in order to induce recipients into surrendering private information and login credentials, is the single most common type of cybercrime today. According to a recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), nearly one-third of complaints received in 2020 were about various forms […]

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 1

Washington University Community: I welcome you to this inaugural edition of our new Information Security Bulletin. My primary goal for the bulletin is to empower every member of our community to do their part in protecting us from cybersecurity attacks. A few years ago, the CISO for a health system was asked how many people […]

Updated Device Security Guidance and Best Practices

Device security is essential for protecting your privacy and data. Sound device security involves using features built into your devices, such as setting a passcode or adjusting privacy settings and protecting the physical security of the device itself. Devices are valuable and are enticing to opportunistic passersby, whether they are after the device itself or […]

The Magical World of Password Managers

Adapted from Tara Schaufler/EDUCAUSE I admit it. I was hesitant and fearful of using a password manager. But then my employer purchased password management software and asked me to introduce it to our organization. What a conundrum! I had avoided using the software up until this time. But why? Honestly, I did not trust that […]

Keep Your Information Secure This Tax Season

Tax season is here again, and as always, that means internet scammers are looking for openings to take advantage of heightened online traffic. According to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, “This is generally the hunting season for online thieves, but this year there’s a dangerous combination of factors at play that should make people more alert” […]

INFOSEC ALERT: Social Security Vishing on Campus

Our office received a report of a vishing (fraudulent phone call) attack targeting a WashU student. In the attack, the caller claimed that the student’s social security number had been associated with overseas drug-trafficking activity.  Another popular Vishing campaign involves impersonating support personnel from companies like Apple or Amazon. In this scam, the attackers call […]

Seminar – Securing Research Data Compliance CMMC/NIST 800-171

This free, one-day seminar will bring you up-to-speed on the new, government-mandated research data (Controlled Unclassified Information – CUI) cybersecurity requirements. The new requirements reach beyond IT cybersecurity by requiring processes, procedures, and documentation throughout any part of our organization that provides resources for the regulated Department of Defense (DoD) research. Follow this link to […]

The Importance of Risk Assessment When Reading Terms and Conditions

Adapted from Ken Ries (CISO UW-River Falls) for EDUCAUSE. Did you buy new tech for the holidays? Read the terms and conditions. As the chief information security officer for the University of Wisconsin (UW)-River Falls and UW-Stout, I have been asked to review an increasing number of web and mobile applications (from an information security […]

Device Security for the Entire Family

The holiday season is here! As we prepare our hearths and homes to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, we sense that this season will be different. According to the National Retail Federation (https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/nrf-expects-holiday-sales-will-grow-between-36-and-52-percent ), online sales are expected to grow by at least 30% this year, adapting to the constraints of a pandemic […]

Top Phishing Threats Last Year: Impersonation and Credential Phishing

The Office of Information Security works diligently to protect our institution from phishing threats. Ultimately, however, our shared security depends on your vigilance. You can protect yourself by avoiding engagement with phishing attempts, and you can help protect all of us by swiftly reporting these threats to our office. When you report a phishing attempt, […]

KringleCon Holiday Hack Challenge 2020

For more than a decade, SANS has offered a free Holiday Hacking Challenge. In 2018, the challenge was dubbed “KringleCon.” WUIT personnel banded together to join the challenge in 2019. Working in their spare time, they ventured deep into the mystery of KringleCon. Alas, they did not make it to the end. This year, the […]

Protect Yourself Online This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us! As many of us prepare our homes, pantries, and gift lists for the approaching season, cybercriminals are simultaneously preparing to exploit security vulnerabilities to their advantage. According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA), these bad actors target online shoppers by using the following tactics: Creating fraudulent websites, emails, […]
E-Waste Recycling and Light Bulb Swap

E-Waste Recycling and Light Bulb Swap

The Office of Sustainability and the Office of Information Security are planning an e-waste recycling and light bulb swap event for Cybersecurity Awareness Month (October 2020). All hard drives collected in this drive will be securely and safely recycled by certified vendors. On the last Thursday of October (10/29) and first Thursday of November (11/5), the Office of […]

Introducing Interim Chief Information Security Officer, Chris Shull

In September, Chris Shull assumed the role of Interim Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Washington University in St. Louis. He comes to us from Huron Consulting Group, which is working on several other projects at WashU. Kevin Hardcastle has stepped back from the CISO role, and is working diligently with Chris to advance the […]

Welcome to Cybersecurity Awareness Month from CISO Kevin Hardcastle

Dear WashU community, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has arrived! Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched in October 2004 by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a joint effort to raise awareness of cybersecurity issues and help people stay safe online.  Now in its 17th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed around […]

Revised and Updated Policies 2020

The Washington University Office of Information Security maintains a sustainable information security program supporting the vital work of education, research, and clinical care while also protecting our systems and users’ security. We can only achieve strong information security for all if we each take personal responsibility for ensuring our systems’ security. We continuously improve our […]

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is here! Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a global effort to help everyone stay protected whenever and however they connect. The overarching theme for the month is, “Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart.” The Office of Information Security is proud to be a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion, supporting online safety throughout the year. We’re here […]

Information Security Manager Brian Allen to Speak at Virtual Zeek Week 2020

Information Security Manager Brian Allen will deliver a presentation entitled “Zeek, and Splunk, and Alertus, oh My” during Virtual Zeek Week 2020. This is a single session of a larger event that includes many opportunities to learn about technical aspects of the work being done by information security professionals. Details for registering for Virtual Zeek […]

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Is Right Around the Corner

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October 2004 as a joint effort between the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The objective of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and offer resources to […]

Working Safely and Securely in a Remote Environment

Original post by Zarmeena Waseem for EDUCAUSE Here are some helpful tips and effective practices for working safely and securely in a remote environment, whether it’s a temporary situation or a permanent transition. Use a VPN Make use of the corporate VPN at your university for an extra layer of security any time you find […]

Find Useful Resources on the InfoSec Website

The Office of Information Security strives to provide a comprehensive set of tools, services, and information to empower members of our community to protect themselves and their data. These priorities are evident in our stated mission, “to build a sustainable information security program that balances the need to protect with the need to support the […]

Protect Yourself from Social Engineering

The Office of Information Security continuously works to protect our community from a wide variety of phishing activity and other security threats. Currently, the majority of the phishing threats we see involve some form of social engineering. What is social engineering? Social engineering attempts to manipulate people by exploiting psychology and emotions such as fear, […]

Tax Deadline Extension and Phishing Scams

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for filing state and federal tax returns is postponed until July 15, 2020. As the deadline approaches, we want to make you aware of the more common tax fraud scams that our office sees each year. We have also compiled some helpful resources to assist you […]

Better Protection with Encryption

Secure encryption is a frequently discussed and recommended strategy for protecting the information that we send, receive, and store on our devices. Encryption is one of the best defenses against those who seek to gain unauthorized access to your digital information. Federal, state, and industry regulations governing the work we do at WashU require that […]

INFOGRAPHIC: 22 Social Engineering Red Flags

Social engineering is one of the primary strategies criminals use in their attempts to attack our systems. From an information security perspective, social engineering is the use of manipulative psychological tactics and deception to commit fraud. The goal of these tactics is to establish some level of trust in order to convince the unsuspecting victim […]

INFOGRAPHIC: 20 Ways to Stop Mobile Attacks

Mobile devices have become an ever-present component of the way we interact with our peers and colleagues. We have desktops and laptops to do the heavy lifting, but the vast majority of us are using some sort of mobile device to access our work during times when we don’t have access to our computers. With […]

Profile: Betsy Ball, Information Security Architect

Please join us in welcoming Betsy Ball to the Office of Information Security’s team! Betsy comes to us with more than 30 years of IT experience, including work in user support as well as server, network, and firewall administration. In her role at WashU, she will serve as an Information Security Architect, working with the […]

Avoiding Exposure to Ransomware

adapted from original post by Trisha Clay, EDUCAUSE Ransomware is scary. Such an attack could make it impossible for you to retrieve documents on your computer. So, how do you protect yourself from ransomware? One of the best ways to protect yourself is to create a good backup of your critical data. These backups should […]

Social Engineering and the “Gift-Card Scam”

adapted from original post by Trisha Clay, EDUCAUSE Social engineering begins with research, whereby an attacker reaches out to a target to gain information and resources. When someone you don’t know contacts you and asks you open-ended questions, this may be the first step of a social-engineering attack. After the attacker reaches out to you, […]

COVID-19: Fake Online Coronavirus Map Delivers Malware

A malicious website pretending to be the live map for Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the internet waiting for unwitting internet users to visit the website. Visiting the website infects the user with a Trojan, an information-stealing program. It is likely being spread via infected email attachments, malicious online […]

POSTPONED: Shred IT, Secure E-Waste Recycling Event

This event has been postponed. We will do our best to reschedule for a later date. Please stay tuned for updates about this event. The Office of Sustainability and the Office of Information Security will be hosting an e-waste recycling and confidential paper shredding event. All are welcome to bring accepted items to the collection […]

VIDEO: Gil the Phish Drops the Bait

Gil is always coming up with new ways to trick unsuspecting users with his phishy emails. You can avoid becoming a victim of one of Gil’s scams by learning the signs of a phishing email and reporting anything suspicious to phishing@wustl.edu. For more information about how to avoid being a victim of phishing, follow the […]

Photo Gallery: Gil and InfoSec at WUSM Heath Happening Fair

The Office of Information Security hosted a table at the WUSM Health Happening Fair on February 21, 2020. We had a great turn out, distributing mic and camera blockers, phone grips, and valuable information to hundreds of our colleagues at the School of Medicine. Gil the Phish made an appearance at the table, to the […]

Tax Time is Open Season for Phishing Scams

Tax season is here again, and with it comes an uptick in scammers using phishing emails designed to steal personal information from their victims in order to commit tax fraud. We encourage you to use extreme caution with any email correspondences requesting personal information. Please refrain from opening any attachments or following any links in […]

Ask The Experts: Password Management

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), strong passwords and multi-factor authentication are key to maintaining information security. The strongest passwords are composed of upper- and lower-case letters, special characters, and numbers. Long and unpredictable passwords are ideal, and according to DHS, these passwords should not include any words that “can be found […]

Get Smart! Mitigating Risks in Connected Devices

original post by Kim Milford, EDUCAUSE   Smart/IoT devices may be the panacea for consumer convenience. Do you want to know and change the temperature of your house or even your fridge remotely? There’s an app for that. Such devices also raise extreme privacy concerns about the data collected about you. Devices can track or […]

External Email Notification Helps Identify Phishes

In the coming weeks, we will introduce a new feature in our email system that will notify users of emails originating from outside of the university. This change is being made to make it easier for everyone at our institution to identify phishing emails. Phishing attacks are on the rise, and often employ multiple methods […]

NCSAM Retrospective

The Office of Information Security recently wrapped up a month of exciting activities and events across Washington University campuses for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to participate in this year’s events, and we are already looking forward to next year’s program. During October 2019, the Office of […]

How Can Higher Ed Better Prepare Cybersecurity Students for a Hot Job Market?

original post by Tom Humbarger, EDUCAUSE   Behind every new report of a data breach, data leak, or computer hack is a company scrambling to put out the fire, which is great news for job seekers or soon-to-graduate students with cybersecurity skills. Unfortunately, this is bad news for most companies because there is currently an […]

The IT Team Can’t Do It Alone—Cybersecurity Is Everyone’s Responsibility

original post by Chad Tracy, EDUCAUSE   Did you know? In 2017 the education industry (which includes K–12 and higher education institutions) had 7,837,781 records breached in 35 events. To put that into perspective, the healthcare industry had 6,058,989 records breached in 428 events, and the retail industry had 123,652,526 records beached across 33 events. (See Privacy […]

Phishing for a Physician – A Spreading Concern

Cybercriminals have been diligently working these days to obtain personal information from unsuspecting physicians as they go about the business of practicing medicine. Physicians and other medical staff are prime targets of these attacks due to their compensation and the wealth of information publicly available on them. Cybercriminals work hard to know who you are […]

Information Security To Go!

original post by Ben Woelk and Joanna Grama, EDUCAUSE   Many people love the adventure that traveling provides: meeting new people, seeing new places, and having new experiences are part of the allure. Technology makes it easier than ever to satisfy our wanderlust. We can use our connected devices to discover the exotic locales we […]

Understanding the Basics of Online Safety and Security

original post by Christina Bonds, EDUCAUSE   Shopping, surfing, banking, gaming, and connecting Internet of Things devices such as toasters and refrigerators are some of the many actions performed each minute in cyberspace. These common everyday activities carry the cyber threats of social engineering to gain unauthorized access to data, identity theft, bullying, location tracking, […]

Keeping Tabs on Mobile Devices

original post by Linda Ludwig, EDUCAUSE   With an increasing amount of sensitive data being stored on personal devices, the value and mobility of smartphones, tablets, and laptops make them appealing and easy targets. These simple tips will help you be prepared in case your mobile device is stolen or misplaced. Encrypt sensitive information. Add a […]

Cryptocurrencies—Look Before You Leap!

original post by Eric Weakland, EDUCAUSE   Cryptocurrency comes under many names. You have probably read about some of the most popular types of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly popular alternatives for online payments. Before converting real dollars, euros, pounds, or other traditional currencies into ₿ (the symbol for Bitcoin, […]

2FA—Control in the Palm of Your Hand

original post by Sandy Silk, EDUCAUSE   Wouldn’t it be nice if your accounts could let you know when someone new is trying to get into them? Even better, wouldn’t it be terrific to make a stolen password useless to others? Were you tricked into revealing your password through a phishing scam? Rest easy, your […]

Whaling, SMiShing, and Vishing…Oh My!

original post by Eric Weakland, EDUCAUSE   Cybercriminals use types of social engineering—manipulating people into doing what they want—as the most common way to steal information and money. Social engineering is at the heart of all types of phishing attacks—those conducted via email, SMS, and phone calls. Technology makes these sorts of attacks easy and […]

Take Control of Your Personal Info to Help Prevent Identity Theft

original post by Mark Napier, EDUCAUSE   The first full week of March is National Consumer Protection Week. The week is designed to help people make good financial decisions and understand their rights as consumers. Understanding your rights as a consumer can help you recover from identity theft. Identity theft has become a fact of life […]

Should You Reboot Your Home Router?

VPNFilter is malware that targets home routers and NAS devices in order to steal files, information, and examine network traffic as it flows through the device. The FBI recently took control of this botnet and has asked the public to reboot their home routers.  Rebooting will help disrupt the malware in case a home router […]