Electronic Waste & Paper Shredding Drives this March

E-Waste Recycling Event Flyer

On Tuesday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 29, the Operations & Facilities Management Department, the Office of Sustainability, and WashU’s Office of Information Security are teaming up to bring the WashU community e-waste recycling and confidential paper shredding services. All are welcome to bring accepted items to the collection drive. All confidential papers and hard […]

Increased Risk of State-Sponsored Cyberattacks as Russia Invades Ukraine

Illustration of anonymous cyberattacker

The threat of state-sponsored cyberattacks increasingly accompanies international relations. Russia has developed and demonstrated its capacity to attack and inflict damage using cyber-warfare tactics. With news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many cybersecurity professionals are recommending increased vigilance during this period of unrest. While much of the responsibility for anticipating and preventing cyberattacks of this […]

Keeping Information Security Simple – Isn’t there an App for that?

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 9 Washington University Community: This month I’d like to warn you about dangerous applications and Internet services, and four things you can do to avoid problems. Many experts focus on iPhone/iPad/iOS and Android devices, but PC and Macs are also vulnerable to malicious applications, so I’ll speak about […]

10 Security Tips for Spring-Break Travelers

Dog on beach

By Christina Pomianek-Smith Spring Break is on the horizon, and many in the WashU community plan to travel for conferences, study away, research opportunities, and maybe even a little rest and relaxation! Smartphones and other digital devices are an integral part of our everyday lives, and they can make travel seem like a blissful dream. […]

Security Tips for Working From Home

Woman working form home desk

By now, we’re all intimately familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of working from home. You may have been working from home for most of the pandemic, are a hybrid employee, or simply take your work or devices home for breaks and weekends. Whatever your unique situation, you probably have direct experience walking the increasingly […]

Seven Lucky Winners and More Chances to Win Prizes!

Trophy with five stars

The results of our 2021 Cybersecurity Awareness Month competitions are in! Our office has selected seven lucky winners. If you’re a winner, we will contact you at your WUSTL email address to request the information we need to deliver your award. If you didn’t win this time, don’t despair! Read on for information about future […]

Scam of the Month: Fake Norton or Geek Squad Call Scam

Geek Squad scam attempt

Attackers are using criminal Gmail accounts to target members of our institution with a phishing scam that involves requesting the recipient call a phone number for additional information. The attackers use dozens of Gmail accounts, using each account to target only one or a few users and modifying minor details to avoid detection. As a […]

InfoSec Alert: Update Google Chrome Immediately to Address Zero-Day Vulnerability

Earlier this week, a member of Google’s threat analysis group discovered a vulnerability in Google Chrome that would allow attackers to execute arbitrary code or corrupt data on impacted machines. Google released a fix for this exploit soon after, and all Chrome users should be sure to update their browsers immediately. Chrome should update each […]

Keeping Information Security Simple – Privacy – Free isn’t free: If you aren’t paying for it, you and your data are the product being sold!

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 8 Washington University Community: This is the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Data Privacy Week (https://staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-week/), and because security is closely related to privacy, I thought I’d say a few things about it. The “right to privacy” was defined by Justice Louis Brandeis in an 1890 article as the right […]

Threats to Your Research Data and Intellectual Property

World intellectual property day and education concept

By Christina Pomianek-Smith Your research data and intellectual property are valuable, not only in the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of society but also to cybercriminals who seek to steal it or hold it for ransom. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation , intellectual property theft is a growing threat in the digital […]

Phishing Awareness Phase II: Competition Winners to be Notified

WIn 10 PAB (Report Phish)

The Office of Information Security recently added several layers of phishing protection for our institution. We hope you have located, and perhaps even used, the new Phish Alert Button (PAB). Last week, our office distributed our first university-wide message from the KnowBe4 platform, asking users to report it as a phish using the PAB to […]

Security Advice from a Busy Student

Fingerprint and padlock on digital screen

By Jack Ballenger (Class of 2024) During these two weeks of virtual classes, students will need to use Duo Mobile, an app for two-factor authentication (2FA), to access Canvas, Outlook, WebStac, and other WashU resources since they are not connected to campus WiFi. Two-factor authentication, also called multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-step authentication, supplements your […]

How to Take Back Control of Your Data This Data Privacy Week

Are you airing your dirty laundry?

Adapted from The National Cybersecurity Alliance, January 2022 From social media to online shopping, our lives and the digital world become more intertwined every day. The digital world affords us a new level of convenience and access to information, but there may be a hidden cost to your privacy associated with these conveniences. Consumers must […]

Data Privacy Fast Facts

Keep not Private

Adapted from National Cybersecurity Alliance 67% of internet users in the US are not aware of their country’s privacy and data protection rules. (LegalJobsIO) 47 U.S. states have nonexistent or consumer-data privacy laws only. Bills are pending in 16 states, six states have study committees or task forces, and just three states have modern data-privacy […]

Scam of the Month: SMiShing and 3 Viruses Detected Scam

Example SMiSh with 3 Viruses Scam

The Office of Information Security has received reports of a SMiShing campaign targeting people at our institution. SMiShing occurs when cybercriminals use tactics common to phishing campaigns in text messages, attempting to communicate legitimacy to their unsuspecting victim. The reported scam (pictured below) is a text-based version of a common and long-running scam that is […]

Keeping Information Security Simple – Automagically update everything!

Washington University Community: Modern computers and mobile devices are so complex that they invariably have unintended flaws. Some of these flaws create vulnerabilities by which cybercriminals can attack your computer, tablet, or phone. In fact, these vulnerabilities are one of the most common ways devices are hacked. The good news is that it is surprisingly […]

It’s the Scam, Scamiest Season of All!

Dog Shopping Image

The holidays have arrived! These final weeks of the year are extremely busy for many of us. People are traveling, shopping, awaiting packages, making end-of-year-donations, and trying to put a pin in 2021. Cybercriminals know and await these frenzied times. They especially like seasons of heightened online shopping and financial transactions because impersonating a bank, […]

Protecting the World’s Most Valuable Resource

Woman with data in brain

By: Christina Pomianek-Smith, Information Security Analyst The refrain “knowledge is power” has been repeated around the world for centuries, from ancient Sanskrit proverbs to the theme song of the animated American educational series, School House Rock. The pursuit of knowledge is central to our university mission. The objective—use knowledge to empower individuals and communities for […]

Best of: A Lookback at 2021

2022 Loading Image

What a year! We’ve continued to adapt to new working environments, a return to campus, new technologies, and novel cyberthreats. The Office Information Security launched a monthly newsletter, ran university-wide competitions, and engaged the WashU community with a slate of events and communications for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Once again, we are proud to be among […]

The Realities of Ransomware

Ransomware is scary

By: Harrison Stites (class of 2022) Ransomware accounted for over 80 percent of the cybersecurity attacks in the education sector in 2020, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report. Healthcare organizations such as BJC (and, by extension, WashU) are significant targets for ransomware attacks because they work with Personal Health Information (PHI) and other […]

Scam of the Month: COVID Omicron Phishing

Security researchers are warning of an uptick in phishing attacks targeting universities themed around COVID, Omicron, and testing information. These attackers seek to steal valuable information and often have the goal of tricking users into handing over their university (or other) log-in credentials. Below, you will find an example of a phishing message using Omicron […]

Have a Happy (and Secure) Thanksgiving

Turkeys Photo

People across America are preparing to travel over the river and through the wood, visiting friends and family for Thanksgiving. The American Automobile Association predicts more than 53 million people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, an increase of 13% from 2020 and the most significant single-year increase since 2005. Many of us are eager […]

Scam of the Month: Direct Deposit Phishing Scam Impersonating University Leadership

Chanc Impersonation Direct Deposit Phish

Members of the WashU community are receiving phishing emails impersonating university leadership, including Chancellor Martin and Dean Perlmutter. These messages request changes to direct deposit information due to suspicious activity.  Phishing scams often impersonate people in leadership positions to encourage a heightened sense of urgency in the recipient. Additionally, information about leaders is publicly available […]

Keeping Information Security Simple – Physical Security Comes First

Letter from the CISO, Vol 1 Issue 4 Washington University Community: Physical safety is a fundamental need of all animals, humans, computer systems, and devices. Last month I encouraged everyone to adopt a healthy dose of skepticism and paranoia regarding email, text, and social media messages to avoid becoming victims of social engineering attacks. This […]

Cybercrime and Human Intelligence

Restricted Intelligence Video Still

To defend ourselves against cybercrime, we cannot rely on technology alone. Cybercriminals constantly try different attack strategies, attempting to confuse, surprise, and manipulate their targets. Phishing emails are the most common attack strategy, and these messages are subject to the limitless creativity of their criminal authors. As a result, even state-of-the-art technology cannot perfectly detect […]

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Road to Security

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is here!  Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a global effort to help everyone stay protected whenever and however they connect. The Office of Information Security is proud to be a Cybersecurity Awareness Champion, supporting online safety throughout the year. We’re here to help every member of our community gain the knowledge and tools […]

SHRED-IT: Electronic Waste & Paper Shredding Drives

On Tuesday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 26, Operations & Facilities Management Department, the Office of Sustainability, WashU Office of Information Security, and BJC Information Security are teaming up to bring the WashU community e-waste recycling and confidential paper shredding services. All are welcome to bring accepted items to the collection drive. All confidential papers and hard drives […]

Scam of the Month—September 2021

Eavesdropping

Zero-Click Security Threat Earlier this month, the Office of Information Security published an alert about “zero-click” spyware. Typical cyberattacks require the target to interact in some way with malicious content by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment from an unknown sender. Zero-click attacks do not require this sort of engagement. According to the interim […]

Revised and Updated Policies 2021

The Washington University Office of Information Security (OIS) supports education, research, and clinical care by protecting systems and data for everyone at our institution. Security threats today are constantly changing as cybercriminals try new tactics to steal and hold ransom user and institutional data. To adapt to changes in the information security landscape, the OIS […]

InfoSec Alert: Critical Security Updates for Apple Devices

Apple recently released a critical software update for all Apple devices designated iOS 14.8, macOS Big Sur 11.6, and watchOS 7.6.2. Apple issued these emergency updates in response to reports that “zero-click” spyware has been discovered on their devices.  Users can update their own devices using the following steps (please note that download times may […]

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

SMiSh Example

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

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 […]

Keeping Information Security Simple – Multi-Factor Authentication

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

Highwayman Robbing Coach Sketch

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 – Everyone is in InfoSec

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 […]