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This week for Cybersecurity Awareness Month we look at protecting your smart phone and computer from data loss. Here are some easy steps:

Password protect it!

A phone may be easier to lose than a computer, but both are at risk from loss and theft. Adding a password reduces the chance that anyone can see or steal the “good stuff” you keep on your devices. Adding a device password is good protection if you save passwords in your browser and/or keep financial records or other sensitive materials on your devices.

Many of the standard questions that people use for password retrieval are easy to research.  Answers to many of those questions can be found in social media profiles and casual social survey answers: birthday, first car, hometown, schools, and “favorites” are all common on Facebook and other services. A dedicated malicious actor can do a little research online and try answers until they reset your password on multiple accounts. If you lie when setting up your password retrieval questions, you can stay social and not be concerned about someone researching you to hack your accounts. Protect yourself and just tell websites that your mother’s maiden name was “Red White and Blue”.

Encrypt it!

Cryptography sounds like the stuff of spies and serious geek mathematicians, but modern computing has brought that level of security to everyone. Both the current Apple iOS and Android operating systems require your phone be encrypted and protected with a password. Desktops and laptops do not enforce these security features, but using Microsoft Bitlocker on your Windows computers and Apple File Vault on your MacOS devices brings that same protection to them. That way if they are ever lost or stolen, you can be secure in knowing that your data will not fall into the wrong hands.

Back it up!

Having a full backup of your computer used to be the number one step in business. Today we recommend backing up the files you’ve created instead of the entire computer. And today, that usually means cloud backups.

The University provides Microsoft OneDrive accounts for all employees. Setting up OneDrive with your Onyen and password is fast and easy. As long as you save your files in OneDrive folders, they will be backed up to the cloud as soon as you have an internet connection.

In addition to OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, DropBox, Box, iDrive and many other services can provide a secure backup of your files to the cloud. (Using two-factor authentication with these services is strongly recommended.) That means that those files are available to you wherever you go and are protected in case of fire, flood, tornado, theft or cat attack on your computer.

Remember: Only OneDrive is approved for storing most but not all University Sensitive Information. Syncing University Sensitive Information to other services puts University-related data at risk because we do not have security agreements with those companies.

If you’d like more information about any of this, contact your local IT support or your Finance and Operations IT Security Liaison Dan L. Barker at

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