Cybersecurity Month: Awareness is just part of the program


UC Davis is active in several areas involving cybersecurity, and because October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now is a good time to take stock.

Some activities are linked to Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which the University of California is observing systemwide in October. UC Davis activities include a free public talk on cybersecurity featuring a Sacramento FBI agent, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 26. Posters with “life hack” ideas—such as “use a password manager” or “automatically install updates”—are also on display on computer room screens, Coffee House tabletops, and in campus hallways this month.

Other new developments, all part of the ongoing work to improve cybersecurity at UC Davis, include:

  • The release of a data guide that can help you answer the often-complex questions of what data can be stored where, based on law, regulations, UC policy, and the attributes of different storage services like Box or OneDrive. Clean, simple answers often aren’t available, because the legal terrain is complex, but the information can at least point you in the right direction. The guidance applies to UC Davis-owned machines that use UC Davis-contracted services.

“This is the the first version of the page,” said Dewight Kramer, an information security consultant with the Information Security Office. “It helps with understanding. It will evolve as we work with others, and add services.”

  • A partnership program with campus departments and units, to see where the Information Security Office can work with them to improve the information security posture across the campus.
  • And advice to be careful about ransomware, in which criminals encrypt the victim’s data and then demand a payment in exchange for instructions on how to unlock the data.

“We’re warning about it because it’s quickly becoming a favorite for criminals or hackers,” Kramer said. “Some pretty big cases are hitting hospitals, and some lesser-known ones are hitting campuses.” About two years ago, a UC Davis department spent tens of thousands of dollars responding to a similar kind of attack involving cryptoware.

Updates about these subjects, including more information about the FBI talk, will be posted to TechNews, the IT news and information service managed by Information and Educational Technology.