LIU Cyber Security

LIU’s CyberSecurity team protects users and resources from potential attacks.

LIU Cyber Security works with campus students, faculty and staff to identify and neutralize attacks on campus IT resources and data, educate users to cyber threats, and ensure compliance with information security laws and policies.

 

Avoid being Phished!!

Protect yourself against Phishing scams.

Learn more about phishing scams, emails and link.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some tips to help protect your computer’s security and keep your data safe.

Back Up Your Work

You should always back up your computer files so you have a copy of them someplace other than on your computer. This is important in case the computer ever has a serious problem, such as a virus infection, defective hard drive, or corrupt operating system. Viruses and hard-drive failure can damage files to an unrecoverable extent.

  • Buy an external hard drive
  • Burn files to a CD or DVD

Install Antivirus and Keep Virus Definitions Up-to-Date

Viruses are malicious programs that run on a computer. They can take control by being:

  • Destructive: compromising computer files; allowing outsiders to access your files; replicating itself through email (using your address book) or through the network; etc.
  • Non-destructive: consuming computer resources making a computer slow; annoying pop-ups or error messages; etc.

Keep Your Operating System Up-to-Date

Having an up-to-date operating system reduces the likelihood of being exploited by malicious software. Windows Updates are released periodically when vulnerabilities have been discovered and updates subsequently released.

Be sure to run Windows Updates weekly or turn on Automatic Updates (in Control Panel). Apple also releases software updates. Be sure to run your Apple Software Updates.

Set Passwords on Administrative and User Accounts

In today’s computing environment, passwords are still the primary method of securing access to your personal and sensitive data.

  • Do not share your passwords
  • Use different passwords for different accounts. If your password gets compromised and many accounts use the same password, all of those accounts would be at risk.
  • Do not write down passwords and leave them lying around. If you must write down a new password for fear of forgetting it, keep it somewhere that stays with you. Try to memorize your new password and destroy the written copy as soon as you feel you can remember it.
  • Change your passwords often. Changing passwords every two to three months makes it more difficult for passwords to be cracked.
  • Use complex passwords. Using a password that is 12 characters or more that combines upper and lower case letters along with numbers and special characters will decrease the likelihood of your password being hacked.

Do Not Use File Sharing Programs

File sharing programs that allow you to download and distribute copyrighted music, games, movies, television programs, and other files are illegal. You put yourself at legal and financial risk by downloading and sharing copyrighted material. In recent years, authorities have cracked down on file sharing across college campus networks. Another risk is that file sharing programs often allow for the easy transfer of viruses and spyware from computer to computer because they give other people sharing the server with you access to your computer. Spyware or viruses can be packaged into the files you download and may infect your computer.

Examples of file sharing programs are: Limewire, Bearshare, Bittorrent, Kazaa, iMesh, Grokster, Xolox, Morpheus, etc.

Turn on a Firewall

Connecting to the Internet can expose your computer to the world. Firewalls are like building a moat around your castle. Intruders will have to first break through the firewall to try to exploit your vulnerabilities.

Windows has a built-in firewall that is enabled by default and can be controlled from the Control Panel. Other Windows firewall products may be purchased.

Do Not Open Unexpected or Suspicious Email Attachments

Unexpected or suspicious email attachments should never be opened. They may execute a disguised program (adware, spyware, virus, etc.) that could damage or steal data. If in doubt, call the sender to verify. A good rule of thumb is to only open file attachments if you are expecting them and if they are relevant to the work you are doing.

Do Not Click on Links in Pop-Up Messages

Clicking on links in pop-up windows often allows third-parties to download malicious software onto your computer. Windows users and most Linux users can close pop-up messages by clicking on the X in the upper right hand corner, or by pressing ALT + F4 on your keyboard. Mac OS users can press Command + Q on their keyboard to close pop-up windows. Ignore pop-up warnings offering solutions to what they say are your computer problems.

Avoid Phishing Scams and Do Not Open Mail From Unknown Senders

Phishing attempts come in the form of emails that falsely claim to be an established legitimate organization or business, like a bank or store, in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private or financial information. If you suspect the email to be illegitimate, we recommend calling the company to verify (but, please, do not use the contact information from that email).

Run Removal Tools for Spyware

Applications such as spyware and malware are installed on your computer, typically without your knowledge, to gather and refer information about you to advertisers and other interested third parties. Without your knowledge, spyware and malware can be easily installed when you access certain websites or download certain programs.

These applications do a number of things besides gathering information about you. For example, they can do all of the following:

  • Make your computer slow/crash
  • Slow down your Internet speed
  • Monitor your computer activity
  • Hijack your computer to send out spam or viruses

It is important to periodically run spyware scans since not all spyware can be prevented. Programs that allow you to download illegal copies of movies, music, games, television programs, and other files have also been known to allow spyware through. You should be careful with all freeware programs.

All malicious programs are covered under the umbrella term malware – adware, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, worms, and viruses – all are considered malware. It is important that you regularly check your computer for malware, as a malware infection puts your personal data at risk. Keep all system software up to date to reduce the risk of infection.

Symptoms of Malware

  • Your computer or web browser has dramatically slowed down over a period of a few days/a week
  • Your computer cannot connect to otherwise normally functioning wifi networks
  • Frequent freezing or crashing
  • Modified or deleted files
  • New programs or desktop icons that you do not recall installing/creating
  • Programs running without your consent
  • Programs closing without your consent
  • Changes in your security settings
  • Unusual emails/facebook messages being sent without your permission to a large audience
  • An increase in pop-up advertisements
  • Your default search engine has been changed without you altering it
  • New toolbars in the web browser
  • Browser links redirect to the wrong web page

What’s the Next Step?

You should run an antivirus scan immediately.

For More Info

Check out Google’s article/video on keeping your devices secure.

Employees should make a reasonable effort to secure and protect devices that have access to University data. When traveling abroad with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, additional measures are required. The number of safeguards should increase if visiting a country known to have an adversarial relationship with the United States, or countries actively involved in cyberwarfare.

When Traveling:

  • Consider using an iPad or a feature-limited tablet instead of a fully-loaded laptop during the length of your trip.

  • Carry with you only the minimum amount of data required to complete necessary tasks while traveling internationally.

  • If you require the use of a laptop while traveling, use one that can be completely wiped clean prior to departure and upon return.

  • Smartphones and tablets being used to store or access University data should have safeguards in place comparative to those used for securing a laptop.

  • Install only the minimum number of applications needed.

  • Make sure antivirus is installed on the laptop.

  • Enable the local firewall or install the Symantec firewall included with Symantec Endpoint Protection. Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X come with a built-in firewall.

  • Make sure the Operating System and installed applications are patched and up to date.

  • Encrypt your hard drive. Be sure to check laws in the country being visited before doing so, as some levels of encryption are illegal in certain countries.

    • Windows 7 includes a free encryption option called BitLocker.

    • Mac OS includes a free encryption option called FileVault.

    • iPhones and iPads have encryption built-in and enabling a Passcode will enable this functionality.

    • Most Android devices support encryption, but it must be enabled within the device’s settings.

  • Enable vendor supplied tracking software available for most major smartphones.

  • Always enable a pin code on all smartphones and tablets.

Follow Safe Computing Practices:

  • While browsing the Web, never ignore a warning message regarding a website’s SSL security certificate being invalid.
  • Never leave a laptop unattended at any point. Physical security is of utmost concern when traveling.
  • Change the password on any account accessed while overseas upon return (NetID, banking logins, etc.).
  • Avoid saving any University data to the local hard drive whenever possible.
  • Disable wireless and bluetooth when not in use.
  • Use complex, lengthy, and hard-to-guess passwords.
  • Document the MAC addresses and serial numbers of all mobile devices leaving the country.
  • Follow all export control laws applicable to data you have access to. Some data is not permitted to leave the country at all, even if stored securely on your device.
  • Always be wary of free Wi-Fi hotspots at untrusted locations. Avoid using them whenever possible and never access sensitive data while connected to one.
  • Assume that any device and all credentials used while abroad have been compromised. That means you must wipe the device and reset all credentials that were used while traveling upon return. This may seem excessive, but it is common for passwords to be intercepted and malware to be secretly installed on a device while visiting another country, with the primary goal of compromising the network you connect to when you return to the United States.
  • Do not check email or surf the Web while logged in as the local administrator. Use a standard unprivileged account instead.
  • Connect to the campus VPN before accessing campus resources.

Advanced Protections:

  • If using a Windows computer, Bitlocker should be combined with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

    • Require a TPM pin at boot up.

  • Install or enable application whitelisting. This functionality is built-in for Windows 7 by means of AppLocker.

  • Configure the host file with the IP address of the VPN server. Be aware that this would require a manual update if the VPN IP address changes while traveling. It should be removed upon return.

  • Deploy laptop anti-theft and tracking software (i.e. Prey, Lojack).

  • Enable a BIOS password at boot up.

  • Configure your system in accordance with the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks to ensure that it is adequately hardened.

Internet Security

In today’s computing environment, passwords are still the primary method of securing access to your personal and sensitive data.

  • Do not share your passwords
  • Use different passwords for different accounts. If your password gets compromised and many accounts use the same password, all of those accounts would be at risk.
  • Do not write down passwords and leave them lying around. If you must write down a new password for fear of forgetting it, keep it somewhere that stays with you. Try to memorize your new password and destroy the written copy as soon as you feel you can remember it.
  • Change your passwords often. Changing passwords every two to three months makes it more difficult for passwords to be cracked.
  • Use complex passwords. Using a password that is 12 characters or more that combines upper and lower case letters along with numbers and special characters will decrease the likelihood of your password being hacked.
Pop-up ads are a form of online advertising on the Internet intended to attract Web traffic or capture email addresses. Clicking on links in pop-up windows often allows third-parties to download malicious software onto your computer. Windows users and most Linux users can close pop-up messages by clicking on the X in the upper right hand corner, or by pressing ALT + F4 on your keyboard. Mac OS users can press Command + Q on their keyboard to close pop-up windows. Ignore pop-up warnings offering solutions to what they say are your computer problems.

Windows users should make sure they are running Windows Updates periodically to take care of exploits and make sure their Windows firewall is turned on since some viruses attempt to turn it off. To turn on your Windows firewall:

Go to the Start Menu > Control Panel > Windows Firewall and make sure it is turned on.

Unexpected or suspicious email attachments should never be opened. They may execute a disguised program (malware, adware, spyware, virus, etc.) that could damage or steal your data. If in doubt, call the sender to verify. A good rule of thumb is to only open file attachments if you are expecting them and if they are relevant to the work you are doing.

Recognizing a Phishing Attempt

For Identity Thieves, one of the most lucrative means of collecting personal information is called Phishing. It involves a malicious individual sending misleading e-mail requesting your personal information. Typically, they will require your Username and Password for some purpose such as ‘preventing your account from being disabled’, or ‘to receive your cash prize’. Phishing e-mail is simply a modern take on a very old scam. Once the user gives up their username and password, their e-mail account is harvested for Financial Information, Blackmail Material and then used to send additional phishing e-mails to their contacts.

No reputable organization will ever ask for your username and password via e-mail. If they need to reset your password, they will not need your current password to do so. Be very careful to whom you give any personal information to. Below you will see samples of actual Phishing Attempts that were received by University Personnel. Never give your username and password to anyone who asks for it via e-mail!

Phishing Example 1:

Subject: EMAIL QUOTA ALERT!!!
Your Mailbox Has Exceeded It Storage Limit As Set By Your Administrator, And You Will Not Be Able To Receive New Mails Until You Re-Validate It.
To Re-Validate –> Follow Link Here

System Administrator

Notice in Example 1 that this malicious individual is attempting to create an immediate need to ‘validate’ your e-mail address. This is done to cause anxiety for the reader and hopefully get them to follow its instructions before thinking about it. To reiterate, no Systems Administrator will ever ask for your Username and Password via e-mail.

Phishing Example 2:

From: lbyrneandsons@eircom.net; on behalf of; Long Island University helpdesk@liu.edu Subject: Notice
Your account subscription has expired and your email account is about to be suspended, Confirm your account information to keep your email active.Click the secured below to extend your account.
secure/liu.edu

Thank you
© 2012 – Long Island University

Notice in Example 2 that the e-mail is purportedly coming from Long Island University, yet the actual e-mail address is lbyrneandsons@eircom.net. Also, the spoofed account is misspelled as helpdek@liu.edu instead of helpdesk@liu.edu. Those are both red flags, and should cause the reader to question the validity of this e-mail and simply delete it. To reiterate, no Systems Administrator will ever ask for your Username and Password via e-mail!

phishing-sample1

phishing-sample2

Cyber Security

To help keep your computers and the data on them safe, follow these tips:

Passwords

Set a password for your computer and be sure to use it! That is, when you step away from your computer, lock it (PC) or put it to sleep (Mac) and be sure a password is required to re-access it.

Use strong passwords and a secure system for having a different password for every site/function.

Antivirus

Be sure your computer has antivirus software on it but only ONE. If you have any expired or sample antivirus software, remove it.

Firewall

A Firewall acts like a wall between your computer and outside connections, helping to protect you. Be sure your computer’s Firewall is on. You can find Firewall settings in the Control Panel (PC) or System Preferences (Mac).

Updates

Computers need to be updated regularly to keep current with any updates, for example a Microsoft security update. You can even set your computer to run the update program automatically, every week or so. You can access updates in the Control Panel (PC) or System Preferences (Mac).

Keep a Record of Device IDs

For all your computers/laptops (and mobile devices, too), record their serial numbers and Wi-Fi/MAC addresses. Store the list of numbers/addresses in a secure place separate from your device. In the case of a lost/stolen device, these numbers can be used to help recover your device.

Password/Passphrase Complexity

Use passwords of 12+ characters, sequential numbers/letters and avoid dictionary words.

To help you remember your complex password, try using a sentence (aka passphrase). Passphrases are easier to remember than random character strings and longer (therefore less hackable). Many sites/applications allow you to use special characters, punctuation, and even spaces. Switch a few letters for characters and use both upper and lower case for the best passphrase, so you could have a passphrase like this (but don’t use this password!):

I ne3d a rea1ly b!g coff3e n0w!

Unique Passwords

Use a different, unique password for each program/application.

Changing Passwords

Plan to change your passwords every 3-6 months. Learn how to change your password.

Managing Passwords

Overwhelmed by the thought of needing separate passwords for all your accounts AND needing to change them regularly? Consider using a password manager.

Password Privacy

Keep your passwords private and do not share them. Know that DoIT will NEVER ask for your password through email nor over the phone, and you should never submit your password in a email/web form.

If you receive an email that is suspicious but inadvertently fill out a form or click on a link, contact Client Support and change your NetID password immediately.

To help keep your mobile devices and the data on them safe, follow these tips:

Passcodes

Set a passcode for your device and be sure auto-lock is on so that your device locks automatically after being idle.

Avoid common device passcodes like 1111, 0000, and the all-in-a-row 2580.

In addition to locking devices and requiring a passcode, be sure encryption is enabled. For Apple devices with a passcode, encryption is automatically enabled, but for Android devices, you must enable encryption.

Apps

Update mobile browsers and apps when there are bug fixes or security updates.

Search the mobile device’s app store for antivirus options.

Always review apps before installing them. Read privacy policies for what device data the app can access.

Install a find-my-device software program, which, in the case of a lost/stolen device, allows you to view a map of where the device is (search your device’s app store for options). Campus police have been able to recover lost/stolen devices with such apps installed.

Keep a Record of Device IDs

For all your mobile devices (and computers/laptops, too), record their serial numbers and Wi-Fi/MAC addresses. Store the list of numbers/addresses in a secure place separate from your device. Again, in the case of a lost/stolen device, these numbers can be used to help recover your device.

To keep you safe when online, follow these tips:

Recognizing Spam & Phishing Emails

When dealing with email, it’s important to be able to recognize suspicious emails and to know what to do with them.

Some characteristics of suspicious emails (spam emails and/or those phishing for your personal information) include

  • Vague subjects, greetings, and/or content
  • Incorrect names, dates (e.g., far in the future), misspellings, mismatched names/email addresses
    • For example, the message could say it is from the “IT Help Desk”, instead of “Client Support.”
  • Awkward wording/language/grammar, strong calls to action (e.g., Urgent!!!!), long alphabetical lists of recipients. Usually important emails are proofread a few times before sent out, so Urgent! emails with errors might be spam.
  • Web links that don’t match sender or are misspelled – You can hover over links to see where it will take you. If you receive an email that looks like it’s from your bank but the links go to elsewhere, don’t click on the links or attachments.

What To Do with Suspicious Emails

If you have a suspicious email, do not click on any links nor attachments in it. Instead, use your email program’s spam/junk function to mark the message as spam or for phishing in Google Mail, report phishing. “When in doubt, throw it out” (or just click the Spam button. The message will remain in our Google Mail spam folder for 30 days). If you are unsure whether an email is legitimate or not, contact Client Support.

If you accidently click on a link in a suspicious email, change your password right away and monitor your account for any suspicious activity. Also let Client Support know.

Web Smarts

Devices

When accessing the internet, be sure the device you use is secure. That is, password protect devices and be sure to sign out when using shared devices or public wifi.

For sensitive online tasks (e.g., banking, online shopping, anything with account numbers), use your own computer or mobile device and a secure network (so don’t do banking on public wifi at a coffeehouse!)

Be leary of popups. Even clicking the exit button on it can be a link to a site you wouldn’t want to go to. To avoid this, simply close your browser, run a virus scan, and contact Client Support if you think your computer may have been infected.

Browsing

Be sure the browser you use to access the Internet is up-to-date.

When visiting websites, pay attention to website URLs. In particular,

  • Check for any inconsistencies between the site you want to visit and the URL (e.g., if visiting LIU University sites, URLs with liu.com instead of .edu might be suspicious).
  • Look for https, shttp, or a locked padlock (as opposed to just http) at the beginning of URLs, especially for online banking and shopping. This indicates that the site has extra security in it.

Responsible Online Behavior

Remember that online actions have the potential to affect many. When online, be cognizant of potential effects of your behavior.

Also, never share your password, even if the requestor seems legitimate. Similarly, if you run across an offer online that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Contact Client Support with any questions about legitimacy of emails, requests, etc.

Operating System Updates

Step 1:

Click the Start button located in the lower left corner of the taskbar

screenshot of Windows 7 software updates

Step 2:

Click on All Programs

screenshot of Windows Updates

Step 3:

Select Windows Update from the list of programs

screenshot of Windows updates

Step 4:

Click on the Check for updates link

screenshot of Windows Updates

 

Step 5:

Windows will search for the latest critical updates. Click Install updates to download and install important software updates.

screenshot of windows updates

Step 6:

Allow Windows to download and install the updates

screenshots of windows updates

screenshot of windows updates

screenshot of windows update

Step 7:

If prompted to restart, click Restart Now

screenshot of windows update

Step 8:

Repeat steps 4-7 until there are no new important updates available

screenshot of windows updates

Having an up-to-date operating system reduces the likelihood of being exploited by malicious software.

Windows Updates

Windows Updates are released periodically when vulnerabilities/updates have been discovered.

Once a month, Microsoft releases its latest security/software updates. You can go to Windows Update in the Start menu of your computer or visit http://update.microsoft.com/ to make sure your machine is running the latest Windows Updates. Even if you updated your computer in the last month, please run Windows Update prior to registration as there will likely be a new update to apply.

Be sure to run Windows Updates weekly or turn on Automatic Updates (in Control Panel).

Apple Updates

Apple Updates can be installed using the Mac App Store (Mountain Lion OS X 10) or by clicking the “Apple” logo in the upper left corner of your screen, and then selecting “Software Update” from the drop-down menu (Previous versions of Mac OS X).

To find out what version of Mac OS X you are currently running, simply click the “apple” logo in the upper left hand of the screen, and select “About” from the drop-down menu.