Massive data breaches leave individual consumers feeling powerless. Sophisticated phishing attacks make the "foreign-born prince" email scams of just a few years ago seem quaint. On social media and beyond, questions of what's real, what's fake and whodunnit are going through a cyber-shakeout nationally and globally.
"It's like the old ‘Spy v. Spy' cartoons," said Kevin Davis, deputy chief information officer and director of core services with Technology & Innovation (formerly ITS).
Davis has been at higher education cybersecurity long enough to remember distributing anti-virus CD-ROMs door-to-door in residence halls. Today's challenges are exponentially more complex, and demand more diligence–the human race generates as much data every two days as it did from the dawn of humanity through 2003.
Ashley Alexander-Lee '17, cybersecurity and operations fellow with Technology & Innovation, says password security can be a big hit or miss for some. College students are all digital natives, and some navigate their digital lives with a sense of resignation.
"The idea that you're going to get hacked no matter what is problematic," she said.
Whatever the day-to-day odds of getting hacked, there are still plenty of steps individuals and institutions can take to stay safer online, said Kevin Bell '05, an Army combat veteran who is a senior enforcement specialist in the Office of Special Measures of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the U.S. Treasury Department.
Even from his highly specialized perch, Bell's advice remains simple: Institutions need to invest time, treasure and talent to cybersecurity, and individuals need to do their part.
"Think through when you're clicking on things," he said. Bell cautions that most people expose themselves to cyberattack by clicking on links in emails.
Bottom line: Everyone plays a role in protecting not just their own data, but the digital systems they frequent.
Davidson participated in National Cyber Security Awareness Month this year with online assessments, weekly tips, campus workshops and other resources. In the spirit of "Let the clicker beware," below is a brief, eat-your-broccoli starter checklist with a few highlights, suggestions and reminders.