Cybersecurity Awareness Month: securing the future

By Kylee Feldhusen | Staff Writer

Student Caleb Neale uses a computer in Eric Johnston Science Center, Nov. 3, 2023, at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. | Caleb Flegel/The Whitworthian

Security and safety have become a well-known source of disquiet at Whitworth University, with there being a certain level of concern over students’ financial security, Social Security and federal loan information.

Christina Lott, information security administrator at Whitworth, is one of the few who are helping spread awareness at Whitworth on how students can protect themselves and their accounts. “Cybersecurity is constantly evolving as new technology becomes available,” said Lott. One of these factors, she says, is the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI): “[Threat Actors (TA’s)] are also using this technology for malicious intent in ways that have never been seen before,” said Lott.

While this may sound frightening, there are several ways a student might be able to protect themselves from this breach of privacy; Lott listed a couple of ways a student might achieve this safety. 

  1. Strong passwords. Usage of strong passwords (16 characters long) can make it difficult to predict and breakthrough. In addition to this, getting into the habit of using different passwords for different accounts can make it less likely your account may be breached. Using a password manager can help keep passwords organized.
  1. Multi-Factor is for Whitworth students to add double protection to their accounts. Some recognize this as the DUO app. To apply this to your own private accounts, check here for more information.
  1. Notice what tricks TA’s use to hack into accounts. TA’s often use a phishing email tactic to get through. This can be job offers that you never applied for, asking for something to be done urgently that has poor writing or little credibility. 
  1. Stay up to date. TA’s are always trying to find ways to improve their techniques to find weak spots in software. Keeping yours up to date to help block these TA’s.

AI is going to be one of the hardest challenges that cybersecurity will face in the future, which is the reason that now is the best time to act to keep all our confidential information safe for all the future semesters at Whitworth to come, said Lott. Everyone’s efforts this month can help influence a change in the future, as “cybersecurity is not the sole responsibility of one person or one department; it is a concentrated effort of everyone that uses the network to keep our systems secure,” said Lott.

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