Protecting yourself from cyberattacks


With news about personal information online being accessed by hackers becoming increasingly frequent, students’ emails can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Last month, at least 500 million Yahoo email account holders had their personal information stolen by hackers.

As these cyberattacks are beginning to occur more frequently, there are measures that students can follow to protect their online information.

“They usually don’t target individuals, but rather send out mass emails (phishing messages) in the hopes of getting responses from even just a few of the thousands of people who receive the message,” says Desmond Irvine, Sheridan’s director of information and compliance.

“The messages that they send out may be seeking to gain access to your email account credentials or those and other personal information like your credit card numbers.”

To protect the privacy of students and employees, Sheridan’s IT department decided to install a security appliance that blocks users from accessing malicious websites.

“Sometimes trustworthy websites can be compromised and become malicious due to vulnerabilities in the software that they run, other websites may be created with the sole purpose of being malicious from the start,” says Irvine.

Once hackers access a vulnerable website, they are able to retrieve information that can lead them to a person’s online banking or social media password.

“Very few email account compromises occur through password guessing, but if you do have an easy to guess password your account could be compromised because of that,” says Irvine.

People who use the same username and password for each of their online accounts can be especially vulnerable to hackers during a data breach.

Irvine says you should not believe everything you see online.

“Ideally use different passwords for different services and use one of the many password management apps to keep track of them,” says Irvine.

Having an updated anti-virus software can also help keep your computer safe.

Sheridan’s IT department offers up to date alerts on phishing and viruses: