Cyber Security Awareness Month at U of T
The Information Security Team holds the annual CSAM campaign to raise awareness of cyber security among the student population and faculty.

For the past decade, Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) has hosted annual meetings during October and this year is no exception. The Information Security Team of the Information Technology Services (ITS) at U of T will be holding its Secure Together: 2021 Cyber Security Awareness Month campaign to raise awareness of cybersecurity importance among the student bodies of all three campuses.

In a virtual talk held on October 14, Isaac Straley, chief information security officer at U of T, reviewed the basics of information security along with the current outlook of cybersecurity among the student body.

For most U of T students, phishing emails are not an uncommon issue. Phishing is known as a form of fraud where offenders impersonate other organizations to retrieve an individual’s private information. Straley mentions in his talk that the exact number of compromised user accounts at U of T netted an alarming total of 7611 accounts last year.

Hackers have utilized these compromised accounts to send out over three million malicious email attacks every single month. Likewise, ransomware attacks have also doubled since last year. All this alludes to the fact that the student body is currently vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Naturally, students are advised to be cautious when dealing with emails. Identifying and ignoring phishing attempts is vital to maintaining cybersecurity. Students should look out for links in emails that imitate authentic sites but on a closer look are clearly misspelled. 

Inconsistent formatting and grammar, such as strange spaces and grammatical errors, are also giveaways as professional organizations generally would not make such errors. 

Any known compromised accounts should be reported to the ITS so that further actions can be taken.

For students looking to reduce security risks posed by user account logins, the U of T’s multi-factor authentication UTORMFA is one of many services under development to improve security of students’ accounts by adding an extra step to login. 

UTORMFA would verify students’ identities through other factors such as their personal mobile devices, thus ensuring only the actual owner may access the account. Students will be allowed to opt-in to this service very soon.

While more than half of October has already passed, there remain numerous cybersecurity-related events taking place soon.

On October 22, Straley will be holding a virtual talk illuminating the information security sector’s changes over the last decade. However, it is important to note that only U of T staff and faculty may sign up for the event and participate in this 40-minute-long Q&A session.

An event geared toward all U of T students, staff, and faculty is the Secure Together Virtual Panel that will be held on October 26. Students can expect to learn more about cybersecurity by listening to experts’ opinions on the matter, while also having the chance to engage in conversation with experts during the Q&A session. Students can reserve their spots by October 25 on the U of T website.

In addition to joining virtual discussions and presentations, students aiming to create a cyber-secure working environment for themselves may visit the Remote Security Matters website. The page has detailed descriptions and useful links about what students can do to safeguard their cybersecurity

News Editor (Volume 49) | — Larry is a third-year student specializing in accounting. He finds writing to be an outstanding medium to spread messages, thus being a phenomenal way to express oneself and to have one’s voice heard. Through his contributions to The Medium , Larry hopes that everyone can witness how enjoyable and invigorating writing can be, such that they too may be inspired to write out their stories. When he’s not studying or writing, Larry will probably be learning Japanese or listening to music, all the while contemplating what life’s next story would be.


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