Cybersecurity Blog

Only you can use your MRU account – 02/26/20

 

 

When we tabulated our survey results, we were delighted to find a significant reduction in password sharing on campus. However, our victory lap did not last long. Password sharing is happening less but there are scary numbers of people logging in and letting someone else use their account.

We understand that you have guests that come on campus and need wifi access, that you have new employees that you need to train and that sometimes a colleague’s or friend’s account isn’t working.  However regardless of the reason, credentials should not be shared.   Your credentials are only for your use. They give you exactly what you need to have access to, no more and no less.  This protects you, your colleagues and the institution.

Stop for a minute and think about all the things only you can access with your login credentials that no one else has access to. Do you really want someone else to be able to access those things? Think about how embarrassing, uncomfortable or alarmed you would feel if a colleague or friend started exploring. I know what you are thinking, I can trust them. They wouldn’t do anything malicious with my account.

Regularly we hear about horror stories of friendships gone wrong, bitter colleagues, bad breakups and the resulting fallout.  When things go bad it is impossible to predict how someone will react. You would be unpleasantly surprised to know the damage that has been caused when these things occur.

Even if letting someone else use your account doesn’t result in data armageddon,  it is against the Acceptable Use of Computing and Communication Resources Policy. The good news is there is no reason to do so. IT Services can arrange access for anyone for any reason. We have a solution for every situation.  Find yours in the Credential Use Guidelines. If you aren’t sure what to do, just call the IT Service Desk and let them know what your time frame is. They will get back to you right away and provide you with a solution.

Don’t give up control by logging in for someone else. Reserve your account for your use only.

 

 

Someone with your name could hurt your job prospects – 01/31/19

With Data Privacy Day disappearing in the sunset, the calls encouraging you to check your online footprint are also fading. However with many of last semesters graduates hard at work trying to land their very first grown up job, I would like to revive the call. This time I want to add an extra tip, also check out the online footprint of those who share your name.

This little extra bit of advice comes from the experiences of a Mount Royal University employee. She had her new boss tell her to correct her education details on her Facebook page, insisting she had listed the wrong university. Here is the deal, they had looked at the wrong profile. Her information was correct. They had looked at another person’s profile who vaguely looked like her and had similar education. Fortunately, the owner of this other profile had posted information that any employer would be happy with. Our Mount Royal employee was lucky.  It could have gone very badly.

The best way to check your online footprint is to grab a public computer, don’t login and then google yourself. Then check out all the people on the first three pages (most employers don’t have the time to look further) of search results.  If you find someone else with a less than desirable profile that you could be confused with, include a notification of this on your resume. If something is showing up that you want kept private, change your privacy settings for that account or ask the account provider to remove the material.  The last thing you want is to end up like this guy.

 

 

Apps sending Facebook your data even if you aren’t a user – 01/07/19

 

 

It is reasonable to think that if you don’t have a Facebook account, don’t view their web page or otherwise engage with any of their content that they wouldn’t have access to your personal information.  Think again.  Privacy International just completed an investigation that shows Facebook is routinely tracking users, logged out users and non-users.  That’s right, even if you have not signed up with the blue devil you are still being tracked.

They tested a variety of Android apps and found that at least 61 percent of them transfer data to Facebook the instant the user opens them. This holds true regardless of whether the user has a Facebook account, has opted out of receiving Facebook cookies or is logged onto Facebook. How much data is transferred and the nature of that data depends on the app.  Some simply do a quick check in while others continue to send data as the app is used.

The data is transmitted through Facebook’s SDK (software developer kit) which allows a developer to create an app that  interacts with Facebook. This cool tool also lets users login to an app using their Facebook ID. Spotify, Kayak, Duolingo, Indeed Job Search, Yelp and TripAdvisor were just some of the apps implicated.  As you can see by the list, this problem is not limited to obscure hardly used apps. Many well known apps that you thought you could trust are actually spying on you.

What are you supposed to do with this information? Be aware that if you are using a web based application  or smartphone app that gives you the option of logging in using your Facebook ID, your data may be sent to Facebook even if you don’t have an account. If you want to know how much of your data is being transferred, feel free to contact the developer and ask. With the new privacy regulations coming into effect across the globe, they may actually answer. Once you know what you are giving up, you can decide on whether the data lost is worth the convenience gained.

 

Buying tech this Christmas? Check out its creepy factor – 11/20/18

 

 

This year, there are tons of cool tech gadgets on the market. Everything from teddy bears that connect to the internet to personal alarms. As neat as all of these devices are, some of them have the potential to leave the users feeling exposed and violated.

Thankfully, the good folks at Mozilla have put together a terrific website that examines the privacy risks of the hottest tech gifts. At privacy not included you can find out what information a device collects, what is done with that data and what kind of security the device has. They also rate customer service. To make it extra fun, consumers can give each item a creepiness rating based on how comfortable they would be having that device in their home.  Check it out.

 

Watch home owners find out their security cameras are being broadcast worldwide – 10/22/18

 

 

With more and more of the devices in our home connecting to the internet, comes more and more ways for criminals to hack your home network. To show just how easy it is, CBC’s Marketplace teamed up with some white hat hackers and hacked into the home networks of several Canadian homes.  When home owners were shown how vulnerable their privacy and their networks were, they were shocked and disturbed.  Watch the episode and see how easy your network can be hacked and what you can do to prevent it.

This week’s Cyber Security Challenge draw entry code is l4lnwsrt. This is the last entry code.  Make sure you get all your codes entered before 4:00 pm Oct 30.

Must read – changes to Google Team Drive permissions – 10/11/18

 

 

This week Google rolled out the first of two changes to the Google Team Drive permissions.  The names have been changed.  The new names and their permissions are:

  • Manager = full access
  • Contributor =edit access
  • Commenter = comment access
  • Viewer = view access

Please check your Team Drive members list and ensure that the new permissions are correct.  After the name change, I found members who previously had only edit access were  given Manager or full access to the drive.

This week’s contest entry code for the Cyber Security Challenge is w2snl4tr.

Facebook is abusing your phone number – 10/04/18

 

 

All of you who have been on the ball and enabled two factor authentication on your Facebook account are about to get really annoyed.  Some researchers have discovered that the same phone number you gave Facebook to secure your account, is being used to target you with advertising.

When Facebook were called out on the practice, they defended it by suggesting users could simply turn off two factor authentication and opt out of the data sharing.  I know what you are thinking. You shouldn’t have to choose between privacy and security. Fortunately, there is a better solution. In May they released a feature called Code Generator.  It allows you to use two factor authentication without using your phone number.

If you are currently using your phone number for two factor authentication  on your Facebook account and don’t want it used for targeting adds, I suggest you switch to the Code Generator.  The added bonus, it works even if you don’t have text messaging or an Internet connection available.

This week’s contest entry code for the Cyber Security Challenge is n1wsl4tr.

 

Google can track you even if Location History is turned off – 08/15/2018

If you have an Android phone or an IOS phone that has the Google app on it, Google could be following your every move.  Most people are aware that you can turn the Location Services off on your iphone and disable Location reporting on your Android phone.  You may even know how to turn off Location History so Google doesn’t store a record of where you have been.  What you probably don’t know is, Google  has been deceiving you.

AP News has found that when you turn off those services, it only disables the viewable timeline. However every time you open Google Maps, get some weather updates or use Chrome for a search, it tracks you and stores time-stamped location data from your devices.

Fortunately, there is a way to truly turn off the location tracking.  Google buried it deep within their account settings. To keep nosy Google from tracking you in any way:

  1. Open the Google app on your mobile device.
  2. Click the Settings icon in the upper left hand corner.
  3. Select Manage your Google Account.
  4. Select Personal info & privacy.
  5. Select Activity Controls.
  6. Select Web & App Activity.
  7. Click the slider to disable Web & app activity.  It should turn gray.

 

Must read – Using your @mtroyal email for personal stuff? Please don’t. – 07/20/18

 

 

On a regular basis, account providers are hacked and their customer data is stolen and put up for sale on the dark web in large data dumps. Usernames and passwords are often included in the information.  As over 30% of users reuse passwords and usernames, once a hacker has that information they can access several accounts.  As part of our ongoing efforts to keep Mount Royal’s data safe, we subscribe to a service that lets us know if any @mtroyal.ca email addresses appear in these lists. If an account provider gets hacked and a user used an @mtroyal.ca email address as a username, we get notified about the breach. We then force a password change on the account to ensure it stays secure.

Where things get uncomfortable is when users decide to use their @mtroyal.ca email address for personal accounts.  Many account providers who deliver special interest content do not have the best security practices and are often hacked. We really don’t want to know that you belong to the Jelly of the Month Club or you are a member of Poniverse (those are the G-rated ones). Please save us and yourselves the embarrassment.  Use your @mtroyal.ca account for business purposes only.