Brown is participating in National Data Privacy Month from January 28th-February 28th, 2014. While not as an intensive campaign as we do each October for Cyber Security Month, there are still opportunities to hear from experts, learn how to protect your individual privacy online, and view an intriguing documentary. More on that later.
Privacy is a large concern to many people, and with so much of our lives and actions online, protecting one’s privacy is becoming increasingly more difficult. I'm sure that you are all aware of the breach of credit cards and personal information from Target, and maybe even have been directly impacted by it. With more and more information being made available by the company, it is now considered the largest breach in the history of personal data. While we laugh that it is no surprise given the name "target", it is no laughing matter. Many of the victims have had their finances, credit and personal lives negatively impacted. Sadly, attacks such as this will continue, as the value of the data continues to increase.
Maintaining your privacy takes effort, and the ISG is here to help. With webpages offering advice, a national webcast on January 30th by Robert Ellis Smith (the nation’s leading privacy advocate), and an ISG brown bag lunch February 24 on "Your Life Online", you have opportunities over the next few weeks to gain insight and knowledge on not only protecting your privacy, but what to do if your information is leaked.
We will also be providing a screening of an intriguing documentary called Terms and Conditions May Apply. Including a Q&A session afterwards with leading members of the Brown community in this area, it will be both an eye-opening and valuable night. I hope that you can attend. Details at brown.edu/go/TACMA.
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com, or the group at ISG@brown.edu. Let me know how we are doing, areas of concern you may have, or questions on protecting your identity, privacy or personal computing security. And remember, sec_rity is not complete without U!
Think you may have been part of a security breach affecting Target or other retailers? ISG recommends that, whether or not you might have been a victim, there are a few things you can do to protect your identity as well as financial reputation.
Keep an eye on your bank account statements
Most banking institutions allow you to set alerts for unusual activity, so that information is pushed to you rather than your needing to remember to log into your account everyday. Jay Gatten of The Human Defense suggests having a text sent to you for any transaction (including cash withdrawals) over $100 (or whatever amount you are most comfortable with).
Debit or Credit?
Gatten as well as others also recommend not using your debit card as a debit card, since its PIN could be captured when slid or inserted in a rogue POS (point of sale) device. Instead, use credit cards whenever possible, which allow you to use the bank's money until you pay it back. This is the reason they will take immediate action if there is a chance of credit card fraud. (Watch this recent news story for more on debit versus credit.) Another alternative: use cash whenever possible, such as at gas stations.
Order free credit reports
An amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three major nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. This means you can track request a report every four months. You can order reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
FTC & Identity Theft
Beware phishing attempts
Some of the expected fallout from the recent breaches is phishy emails, text or even phone calls to those whose personal information was stolen. Because of this, be extra vigilant for anything that doesn't quite seem right. Learn how to spot a phish at www.brown.edu/go/phishing. Unfortunately, the "Important message from Target to our guests" email that was sent mid-January looks a bit phishy. What do you think they could have done better? On the plus side, the letters did contain helpful recommendations, much like what was contained here. But it also included an offer for a free credit report that some have found confusing or are unable to act upon since they don't have email and access to the Internet.
Home networks were relatively simple several years ago, perhaps nothing more than a wireless access point and a computer or two used to surf the Internet or play games online. However, home networks have become increasingly complex. Not only are we connecting more devices to our home networks, but we are doing more things with them. In this edition we will cover some basic steps to creating a more secure home network.
Your Wireless Network
Almost every home network starts with a wireless network (sometimes called a Wi-Fi network). This is what enables you to wirelessly connect any of your devices to the Internet, from laptops and tablets to gaming consoles and televisions. For this to happen, your wireless network needs something called a wireless access point. This is a physical device that connects to your Internet router (or may be built into your Internet router) and sends out a wireless signal that your devices connect to. Once your devices connect to the access point, they can then connect to other devices on your home network and the Internet. As a result, your wireless access point is one of the key parts of your home network. As such, we recommend the following steps to securing it:
- For most wireless access points, the default administrator login and password is well-known and often even posted on the Internet. As such, be sure to change the default administrator login and password to something that only you know. Make sure that it is a unique password and is not used for any of your other accounts.
- Another option you will need to configure is the name of your wireless network (sometimes called your SSID). This is the name your devices will see when they search for local wireless networks. Give your network name something unique so you can easily identify it, but make sure it does not contain any personal information. Also, there is little value in configuring your network as hidden (or non-broadcast). Most wireless scanning tools or any skilled attacker can easily discover the details of a hidden network.
- The next step is ensuring that only people you know and trust can connect to and use your wireless network, and that those connections are encrypted. You want to be sure that neighbors or strangers cannot connect to or monitor your network. You can easily mitigate these risks by enabling strong security on your wireless access point. Currently, the best option is to use the security mechanism WPA2. By simply enabling this, you require a password for people to connect to your home network and, once authenticated, those connections are encrypted. Be sure you do not use older, outdated security methods such as WEP, or no security at all (which is called an open network). An open network allows anyone to connect to your wireless network without any authentication.
- Make sure the password people will use to connect to your wireless network is a strong, hard-to-guess password and that it is different from the administrator password. Remember, you most likely have to enter the password only once for each of your devices, as they will each store and remember the password.
- Many wireless access points support what is called a Guest Network. A Guest Network allows visitors to connect to your wireless access point and access the Internet, but they cannot connect to any of the devices on your home network. If you add a Guest Network, be sure to enable WPA2 and a different password for this network.
- If you can’t remember the different passwords then use a password manager to securely store them.
Once you have your wireless network configured, we recommend you configure your home network to use OpenDNS as your DNS servers (or a similar service, such as Norton ConnectSafe for Home). When you type a name into your browser, DNS is how your browser knows which server on the Internet to connect to. Services such as OpenDNS identify known, infected websites and stop any device connected to your home wireless network from accidentally visiting these infected websites. In addition, these services often give you the ability to filter and block objectionable websites. What makes this approach so effective is there is no software to install on your devices, you just make a change to your wireless access point.
The next step involves knowing what is connected to your home network and making sure those devices are secure. This used to be simple, as you only had a few devices connected in the past. Nowadays, however, almost anything can connect to your home network, including TVs, gaming consoles, baby monitors, speakers, your house thermometer and even your car. Once you identify all the devices on your home network, you may be surprised by just how many you have. The best way to keep all of these devices secure is to ensure they are always running the latest version of their operating system. Be sure you have auto-update enabled when possible. If this is not an option, then review and update your devices monthly, if possible. In addition, be sure to visit your Internet service provider's website, as they may provide free tools and services to help you secure your home network.
- OpenDNS: http://www.opendns.org
- Norton ConnectSafe: http://dns.norton.com/dnsweb/dnsForHome.do
- Network Security Scanner: http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/network-security-scan.aspx
- Password Managers: http://www.securingthehuman.org/resources/newsletters/ouch/2013#october2013
Note: This article was prepared by Kevin Johnson, who is the CEO at Secure Ideas, runs MySecurityScanner.com and is a senior instructor with the SANS Institute. You can find more information at www.secureideas.com. It was prepared for the January 2014 issue of OUCH!, Securing Your New Tablet. OUCH! is published by SANS Securing The Human and is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. You are free to share or distribute this article as long as you do not sell or modify it. For past editions or translated versions, visit www.securingthehuman.org/ouch. Editorial Board: Bill Wyman, Walt Scrivens, Phil Hoffman, Bob Rudis
Keep up with alerts and tips from the Information Security Group by following us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ISGatBrown and https://twitter.com/CISOatBrownU. Here's a sample of a recent tweet so you can see what you're missing:
ISG @ Brown @ISGatBrown: Do you know your #privacy IQ? 10 quick Q's to find out, brought to you by StaySafeOnline & ZeroKnowledgePrivacy.org: http://myprivacyiq.com/
Is your mobile phone number in MyAccount? Not only is a mobile phone number important for emergency notifications, but it can also be used to reset a forgotten password for your Brown username by following the Forgot Password link on most Brown login pages. Enter your mobile phone number at http://brown.edu/myaccount today, and don't forget to put a password lock on your phone to stay secure.
Maybe you’ve been meaning to make your password more secure but are afraid you’ll forget it. With this new feature, if you forget your strong password, you can always reset it yourself instead of having to visit the Computing Accounts and Passwords office in person. We recommend choosing a 10 character (or longer) password.
This video shows how the new self-service password reset works:
If you are having trouble connecting your device (computer, smartphone, etc.) to Brown-Secure wireless or would like to report a coverage issue, please stop by one of our upcoming clinics:
- Thursday 11/21, 2 pm - 4 pm, atrium of the CIT Building
- Thursday 12/5, 3:30 pm - 5 pm Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center
- Thursday 12/12, 3:30 pm - 5 pm Sci-Li (main floor)
- Thursday 12/19, 3 pm - 5 pm in the Alpert Medical School Main Lobby
- Thursday 1/23/14, 9am - 5pm, atrium of the CIT Building
- Tuesday 1/28/14, 3pm - 5pm, Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library
- Thursday 1/30/14, 3pm - 5pm, Hecker Center, Rockefeller Library
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time set aside to heighten awareness of online threats and how to protect yourself, your computer or device, personal information, identity, bank account and/or reputation.
Each October the Information Security Group ratchets up their efforts to bring their message of computing safety to the Brown community. As part of this year's theme of Don't Get Caught, Get Cautious, ISG has planned special Brown Bags, prepared online materials that includes weekly quizzes, and is once again holding a raffle, with prizes that include an iPad mini and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.
Visit Don't Get Caught, Get Cautious for full details on how to sign up for classes and enter the contest.
On Thursday, November 21, Brown's Shibboleth login screens are getting a new look. Though you may not know it by name, you have probably used Shibboleth to log in to many access-restricted Brown websites and services such as Canvas and Workday.
The new look brings our login screens in line with the University's web branding initiative that started with the homepage in 2010. Logging in still works the same, the only thing that changes is the visual design of the login and error screens.
The new format makes authentication (logging in) easier for Faculty, Students, and Staff. It highlights important information and helps visitors to be aware of which services have asked that they authenticate.
In addition to having a new look, the page is built with a "responsive" layout. That means it will automatically format itself to display well on your phone, tablet, or desktop browser.
A mobile-friendly login screen at Brown responds to increased demand for web content from mobile devices, and is critical to engage segments of the world's population that use only mobile devices for web access. Mobile traffic has grown ten fold from what it was three years ago, and currently accounts for nearly 25% of Brown's online visitors.
If you get a new computer over the break, remember that you'll be able to download Microsoft Office for free in 2014 through Brown - no need to buy a copy. In early January, look for more information in Morning Mail and on this site.