CITES hosts computer safety month

By Shane Leturgey

Classifying November as Computer Safety Month, numerous lectures and training sessions full of tips and advice have been established on campus throughout the month. Most people understand that there are numerous computer security risks out there, however most know very little about properly protecting their computers.

Throughout the entire month, the Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services is hosting multiple seminars to teach University students how to protect their computers from unwanted viruses and hackers. However, Mike Jahn, CITES security outreach coordinator, said the attendance for these workshops has not been quite what was hoped.

“The typical computer will be attacked within 15 minutes of appearing on the Internet,” said Mike Corn, the director of security services and information privacy. “This puts the user’s identity and personal information at great risk. Learning how to protect this information is easier than most people realize.”

Jahn said with the ever-growing ease in which to get spyware today, every computer user is at a very high security risk. Spyware is a type of software that a company or individual person can use to hack into a computer to access personal information. This information ranges from credit card numbers, to social security numbers, to e-mail passwords. With this information an individual can do everything from emptying bank accounts to charging thousands of dollars on a credit card.

Jahn said it could take years to recover both financially and emotionally after a case of identity theft. Having one’s identity stolen can leave financial scars and destroy credit for years to come.

Though identity theft is the most stressed topic for the CITES Computer Safety Month, it is not the only one. Another major topic is one common to all Internet users – the blocking of spam and viruses.

“Viruses are horrible, and you never know when you have one until it is too late,” said Karly Bellich, freshman in LAS.

Bellich and her roommate received a virus and were quarantined from their computers for over two weeks.

“We couldn’t do homework, check e-mail, anything,” Bellich said.

Viruses can spread like a forest fire, and an e-mail-attached virus accessed by a student can spread throughout the entire network, affecting thousands of other students and faculty.

The CITES training sessions also cover popular topics such as the dangers of chat rooms and instant messaging, e-mail dangers and the prevention of online fraud.