Thursday, October 19, 2017

Phishing Attacks in Education- What Can You do?

In 2016, Phishing attacks became mainstream, and in 2017 hackers began to innovate their practice of targeting of unsuspecting victims. While the media has covered large data breaches by corporations, hackers are increasingly probing and targeting educational institutions to steal data and create enormous spamming issues.

One of the most important methods to help thwart these attacks is to have a solid program to help  end users be aware of the risks of potential phishing and how to protect themselves. Developing a strategic communications can help faculty, staff, and students be prepared against cyber attacks.

This film was created to help end users understand what phishing attacks are, the risks, and how to create cyber awareness.

First, be sure to create and distribute clear and concise communications. Have a person or team craft messages which are easy to understand and not written in IT-jargon. Make your messages understandable to a wide audience.

Second, use analytical research tools to determine if and when your e-mail messages are being opened by your end users. E-mail marketing software such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are excellent services to track the effectiveness of your communications, and provides insights into the best time to target your audience, and the actual location placement of your content in your web e-mail message.

Third, don't rely only on electronic messages to your end users. Consider written messages, posters, door hangers, and other print materials to disseminate your narrative.

Fourth, develop a cyber security culture by going out to your customers to explain the importance of cyber security.  Plan meetings and workshops which provide a platform to faculty and student senates, committees, and residence halls. IT professionals should go out to their customer base to help them become aware of cyber threats and how to protect themselves.

Fifth, create your communication plan and target and time when you want to connect with your audience. Search out and consider research which specifies the optimum times to send digital messages through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Some research suggests the best time to posts on Facebook is 1–4 p.m. on Wednesday. For Twitter Wednesday 12-3pm, and Instagram, Monday and Tuesday at 9:00am are ideal times. There are exceptions to these times based upon time zone, culture, and additional factors.

To recap, the top 5 things to remember in creating a strategic communication plan for cyber security awareness are:

1) Good communications
2) Use analytical tools
3) Use digital and analog communications
4) Create a Cyber Security Culture
5) Target and time your messages

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