As October draws to a close, so does National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Throughout the month, Information and Communication Technologies hosted presentations on online safety, particularly on keeping information out of the hands of hackers.
ICT is the section of information security at NMSU that works toward keeping all information private and secure. ICT help desk supervisor Ron Flores discussed the goals of the month.
“Cyber Security Month is a way that ICT can share with the public what dangers are out there with the internet — what to do, what not to do,” Flores said.
Phishing is one of the many ways that hackers are able to get ahold of students’ information. “Phishing is when they’ll put a bunch of stuff out there and see if they can hook somebody,” Flores explained. “A hacker will send 10,000 emails, and they’re hoping for one or two people to provide their credentials.”
One NMSU student, Danielle Sanchez, was unlucky enough to be the victim of a phishing attack.
“It was really weird” Sanchez said. “My email was sending a bunch — probably like 30 emails — to random people every 10 minutes.”
Sanchez wasn’t able to see the content of the emails. “It didn’t look like real emails. I don’t even know what what was being sent. I even tried deleting the emails and I couldn’t,” she added.
“This happened for a couple of days, and then I tried logging into my Canvas because I had summer classes, and I couldn’t log in. It said my account was disabled.”
Sanchez turned to tech support for help. It was only then Sanchez realized she had been hacked. “I guess I opened an email that wasn’t really from NMSU. It said something weird, but it looked like a real NMSU email.”
Sending emails that look very similar to NMSU is a tactic that hackers use to trick people into giving out their personal information.
“I didn’t know what was going on. I thought my email was just acting weird, but if your email is acting weird call tech support right away,” Sanchez advised .
One tip that ICT gave Sanchez was to not open any emails unless they are from an email address on the nmsu.edu domain. Even if it says NMSU, has the logo or a maroon banner, stay away if it doesn’t show the correct return address.
Flores said that hackers use emails and phone calls to gather information. These hacks happen on campus everyday. Although Flores understands the technical side of hacking there’s one thing that he’s never been able to understand.
“I’ve been here like 26 years at the university and I’ve never understood why hackers do this.” Flores said. “What do they get out of it? I guess it’s like a reward for them to be able to hack a system and then cause it to come down. I don’t know.”
Although ICT works hard to keep data safe from hackers, there’s one thing Flores is unsure about: “I don’t think we’ll ever stop them.”
For more information on information security, visit infosec.nmsu.edu.