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The Daily Tar Heel

ITS plans Cyber Security Awareness Month events

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article reported that junior Winston Howes hacked into the UNC system. The article has been updated to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

After more than 600 UNC students had their accounts hacked in August, UNC Information Technology Services has been taking steps to ensure students are protected.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month at UNC and at many other universities across the nation.

“The University as a whole is a huge target in terms of information security,” said Ramon Padilla, associate vice chancellor and deputy information officer for ITS.

He said that a lot of people want students’ academic and financial information.

“Students are wonderful targets,” Padilla said. “They typically come to the University with good credit or no credit so that’s a great identity to steal.”

He also said many people would love to have access to the research at UNC.

But many students are not aware of the measures they can take to protect their identity and information online.

Junior Simone Dunphy said she was not particularly interested in learning about cyber security.

ITS has planned a series of events this month to inform students of ways they can protect themselves from threats online. They have two outdoor events in the Pit Wednesday and Oct. 31. They will have games and prizes for correctly answered questions about cyber security.

In addition, they are sponsoring a video contest based on the motto: “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” The students who submit the best cyber security-themed video will win an iPad.

ITS is also hosting a cyber security town hall style meeting for faculty and staff in two weeks about the current “threatscape” students face at Carolina.

Junior Winston Howes created ConnectCarolina 2.0, a website that was shut down by ITS earlier this year, and faced accusations of phishing — or disingenuously soliciting private user information — from ITS earlier this year.

“I have found a few security holes in the current UNC server,” he said.

“I have been on the phone with ITS who is working on fixing them,” Howes said. “You could take over someone’s account in the UNC system without an incredible amount of difficulty.”

Most of the software students use, including Windows, Java and Adobe, sends security updates that many ignore. Padilla said by not applying those patches the students leave their systems vulnerable.

“The best way for students to protect themselves from online threats is to be patched,” Padilla said.

Howes said it is important to check the URL at the top of the page to make sure it is the page they intend to visit before clicking on the link.

At its events in the Pit this month, ITS will focus on social media security.

“People need to understand what they’re putting out there so years later it doesn’t come up in their job interview,” Padilla said.

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