Cybersecurity Awareness in the Age of Smart Campuses: Protecting our University in the Modern Era


October marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and as our Fordham community becomes increasingly interconnected, there has never been a more crucial time to understand and prioritize our digital safety. Today, we spotlight a current pressing issue in the world of cybersecurity to remind our community members that vigilance is a shared responsibility.

The Rise of Ransomware in Educational Institutions

Recently, the world of cybersecurity has seen an alarming rise in ransomware attacks targeting educational institutions. With the pivot to hybrid teaching and learning and the increased digitalization of academic resources, cybercriminals view universities as potential gold mines for information and financial gains.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Imagine losing access to your thesis, research data, or even course platforms indefinitely! The implications are daunting.

Why are Universities Targeted?

  • Rich Data Reservoirs: From personal student information to ground-breaking research data, universities house a trove of information that can be lucrative for cybercriminals.
  • Complex Systems: Our vast and varied IT infrastructures, from smart classrooms to digital libraries, can often have vulnerabilities if not regularly updated and monitored.
  • Diverse User Base: A large number of students, faculty, and staff access university networks daily, often from various devices and locations, increasing the potential points of entry for cyberattacks.

Cultivating a Cybersecurity Culture

Now, more than ever, it’s essential for each member of the Fordham community to play an active role in our collective cybersecurity. Here’s how:

  1. Educate and Update: Regularly attend Fordham IT cybersecurity workshops and seminars. Ensure that all your devices are updated with the latest security patches.
  2. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): If you haven’t already, enable 2FA for all your accounts, in addition to those already protected by DUO like your university email and portal.
  3. Be Wary of Phishing: Always scrutinize unsolicited emails, especially those urging immediate action or requesting personal information. When in doubt, contact Fordham IT Service Desk at X3999
  4. Secure Your Devices: Use strong, unique passwords for all accounts.
  5. Backup Regularly: Ensure that your data is backed up to a trusted cloud provider or an external drive. This can be a lifesaver in case of any cyber incidents.

Embracing a Secure Digital Future

As we adapt to a world where our university lives are intertwined with digital platforms, embracing cybersecurity is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Just as we savor the simple pleasures in life, like enjoying a good barbecue or spending time with family, it’s equally vital to protect and cherish our digital assets.

Remember, a secure digital Fordham begins with you. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s pledge to be more vigilant and proactive, ensuring our university remains a safe space for innovation, education, and growth.


About Author

Associate Vice President for IT, CISO, Fordham University

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