New IT site promotes web security

By Austin Miller

Although the Internet has created a global society that is always connected, computer hackers exploit that connectivity to steal personal information.

The Information Security unit of the Office of Information Technology has created to increase online safety among faculty and students.

Scott Bridges, director of Information Security, said the site also provides awareness on secure web browsing.


“Awareness is a huge part of security,” he said. “Many incidents come from not knowing the repercussions of clicking on a link.”

Bridges said fraudulent emails are a common threat for students.

He said these emails look similar to ones sent by the university or a bank. These scams, known as “phishing” are designed to steal financial and personal information, usernames and passwords. Other scams attempt to install malware on computers, Bridges said.

SecureIT defines malware as any software that can compromise the security of a computer.

Bridges said the email addresses will not have the official credentials, but will have something similar to trick students. Holding the cursor over the email’s link will show an address that is different from SIU sites.

Bridges said Information Security cleans students’ computers of viruses. He said there is little the university can do if individuals give out information, but it helps victims go through the proper channels to resolve the problem.

Bridges said viruses could proliferate across the school network, leaving many at risk. Having up-to-date virus protection can prevent most intrusion attempts.


The website also provides tips for creating strong passwords and several free computer security programs, Bridges said.

David Crain, chief information officer and associate provost, said higher education was the No. 1 target for phishing scams in 2013 because students often fall for these tricks.

Crain said the university uses Microsoft to block intrusions. He said the program is constantly updated to block threats found by other universities and can find computers infected with malware.

Crain said hackers are hard to battle because they are always moving and getting better. But once they are noticed, they are blocked.

“One day, attacks come from a machine in China, then the next day it’s coming from Russia,” he said.

Crain said millions of emails come through the university every day and most of them are spam. IT receives multiple reports a day from students who have seen suspicious emails. Suspect emails should be reported to [email protected].

“It can really be a nightmare if your identity is stolen,” he said.

Allen Ewing, president of Tech Dawgs, a Registered Student Organization that volunteers computer services to the community, said he sees multiple people a week who are not using the web safely. He said SecureIT is a great service to help those people.

“Keeping your information as private as possible is key,” said Ewing, a senior from Chicago studying information systems technology. “I have tons of information and I would die if that got out.”

SecureIT will post breaking security news on the site and on its Twitter account, @SIU_InfoSec.