SRU Cyber Security Fair can connect attendees to online safety

cyber security lock illustration

Oct. 13, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Remember when going to the bank meant coin rolls, deposit slips and pens chained to a desk? Like most day-to-day tasks, 21st century banking has become a chore best left to the comfort of your couch rather than standing in line waiting for the next available teller.

Unfortunately, it also means that becoming a victim of identity or bank card theft is more likely to occur via your Internet connection than by a pickpocket on the street.

For that reason, it is important for individuals to become web-security savvy in order protect themselves from becoming victims of cybercrime.

Taking that into consideration, Slippery Rock University will be offering its Third Annual Cyber Security Fair from 12:30-3 p.m., Oct. 27 in the Smith Student Center Ballroom. The aim of the event is to educate students, faculty and staff on the importance of online safety. The fair coincides with October being National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The event will feature various lectures, training sessions, informational and vendor booths covering such topics as email security, social media, smart phones, Internet privacy and passwords. Other instructional components will include how to secure personal Wi-Fi and PCs as well as how to backup, encrypt and safely delete data.

Stephen Larson, assistant professor of computer science, believes that the interpersonal connectivity that results from contemporary technologies can bring new dangers to our lives.

"As technology advances, our lives become easier and more connected," said Larson. "However, being constantly connected brings increased risk of threat, fraud and abuse. No country, industry, community or individual is immune to cyber risks."

One such recent risk is "ransomware," a malicious software that blocks access to personal computer systems until a determined sum of money is paid. Other current cyber security hazards involve popular social networking apps and mobile games, including the recent "Pokémon Go."

"Pokémon Go actually gathers so much personal information that if someone were able to successfully hack into it your account, they could quite literally take over your life," said Larson. "What you learn at the (Cyber Security) fair is just the first step in knowing how to protect yourself against these possibilities, so that you can lead a safe and happy online lifestyle."

The fair, which originated as a teaching opportunity for Larson's management information systems students, attracts nearly 300 attendees per year.

Students who participate look forward to the educational aspects of the fair, which enable them to operate online with independence and awareness.

"I believe having a fair such as this can be extremely beneficial for our student community," said Dilmini De Silva, a dual communication digital media production and criminology major from Slippery Rock. "I consider it an amazing opportunity for all of us to learn and develop a general understanding of how to keep our identities safe and secure from threats and how to protect our online information and data."

Topical booths at the fair will include:

  • Gone Phishing: How to recognize phishing emails and what to do when they receive one;
  • Don't Forget to Wipe: How to securely delete all data, a process called "wiping," before disposing a computer;
  • Smart Phones, Stupid People: How to secure smart phones so as not to unintentionally pass along personal data;
  • Social Media: Learn the perils of using social media and how to protect personal information on social networking sites;
  • P@ssword: Viruses, malware and how to protect against them;
  • Are You Backed Up?: Learn the proper way to back up critical data and test the restoration of backed up data;
  • Do You Use Protection?: How to keep personal information safe on the Internet;
  • Before and After Using Public PCs and Wi-Fi Hotspots: How to keep personal information safe when using a publically available PC and/or Wi-Fi hotspot.

For more information about the event, contact Larson at: 724.738.4528 or stephen.larson@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu