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College to give Internet security training sessions

Alicia Smith | Thursday, October 14, 2010

To boost awareness of computer security threats, Saint Mary’s College Information Technology will offer computer security awareness sessions Monday Oct. 25.

Kathy Hausmann, coordinator of student computing, said three sessions will be offered at noon, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to educate students, faculty and staff about the dangers of the Internet, as well as other computer security topics.

Hausmann said she would talk about malware, which is malicious software for the computer, as well as phishing, which is an attempt to acquire passwords or personal information illegally.

She will also talk about using file sharing programs like LimeWire, how to create effective passwords and Facebook privacy.

According to Hausmann, each time a computer is logged onto the Internet, it is vulnerable to a variety of threats.

“I think it’s important that students, faculty and staff attend the sessions because as long as they are using a computer, they are connected to the Internet, they have e-mail accounts, [then] they are susceptible to the threats that are online,” she said. “We’ll just be going over best practices of what you should be aware of if you are online.”

Hausmann said members of the College community have already been affected by such threats.

“We have had several instances of faculty, staff and student computers infected with malware,” she said. “Since August, we have had faculty and students be affected by phishing scams and we also have had issues with students having peer-to-peer file sharing applications on their computer.”

Similar sessions have been offered in previous years, Hausmann said, but because of the constant changes in technology, this year’s sessions will offer more up-to-date information.

“I’ve done these sessions for a couple of years now, but they keep changing,” she said. “Just as the technology changes, the scammers and the spammers and the hackers and the malware writers come up with new ways to trick people and so we always have to try to be one step ahead of them.

“These are our tools for defense. Education is what can protect you.”