UK’s IT Services launches #SecureBlue campaign

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UK’s Information and Technology Services has launched a campaign to spread awareness about cybersecurity on campus. 

Emily Girard

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month the University of Kentucky’s Information Technology Services launched its #SecureBlue campaign.

Since October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the campaign offers opportunities throughout the month, both on campus and online, for students to learn how to keep their data safe.

The campaign also comes in the wake of a recent data breach in which almost 6,000 myUK accounts were leaked onto the Dark Web due to a third-party website failure.

Marci Adams, representing the communications department of ITS, said that the campaign has expanded every year to reach as many people as possible.

“Initially, it started with just tabling, and then we added a social media campaign posting a [cybersecurity] tip every single day in October,” said Adams. “We also put initiatives on our #SecureBlue website like cybersecurity training that faculty and staff can do.”

“We try to target…various means of social media,” added Michael Sheron, representing the IT Security and Policy department. “This year in particular, we’re doing a lot of presentations to student organizations and UK 101 classes …We always look at what we did the year before and try to find new ways of reaching out.”

Sheron also stressed the importance of student input in designing each year’s #SecureBlue campaign.

“I’m almost 50, so social media to me is Facebook and Twitter, but those types of things are less popular than they were,” said Sheron. “The students provide us with new insights.”

Adams and Sheron explained that incorporating games into the campaign increases student participation. This year’s tabling events, taking place at various locations across campus, allow students to win prizes by answering trivia questions about malware, phishing, and other threats to cybersecurity.

“I thought the questions were pretty cool,” said occupational medicine resident Adrianne Deveira after visiting a table in the College of Nursing. “He asked me about brute force…where an attacker will just guess all the passwords until they get something right, and I got it correct.”

Seniors Wesley Robinson and Chase Karlen, who managed the table, said they hope the events make students more proactive toward their own safety.

“[Cybersecurity] may be looked at as something small, but it’s actually grown into something that’s really important and a big part of our lives,” said Robinson. “Everything nowadays is switching over to the internet, and they need the people there to be able to protect them.”

Sheron agreed that student awareness is critical to the campaign’s effectiveness.

“All of these things…none of them matter if the person sitting in front of the machine doesn’t follow the best practices,” he said. “#SecureBlue is designed to try to help you, as the person who’s sitting in front of this device, keep this device and your information safe. We want you to know how, when you leave this university, to be safe on the internet…[and] in a digital world.”

Student organizations or classes who would like ITS to present during their meetings can contact the department at [email protected]

“It’s important to be aware of how your computer is on the network,” said Karlen. “If your computer gets compromised…then that’s just one leeway that an attacker could use to gain control of other computers.”