SAVANNAH, GA– November 21, 2016— As part of the University System of Georgia’s International Fraud Awareness Week in November, Armstrong State University’s IT Services Department recently hosted a presentation by Fred Brown, an information technology security analyst at Armstrong, focusing on identity theft and fraud.
An IT professional with more than 23 years of experience, Brown has worked as a cyber intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force, a classified communications administrator for Jacobs Technology and a manager of end user services for Memorial University Medical Center.
“On our campus, we deal with a lot of academic and business fraud, but we wanted to share some other concerns with our students, faculty, staff and with the community at large,” said Kelly J. Crosby, chief audit officer at Armstrong. “We want to take away some of the mystery and show our Armstrong community how they can minimize security risks.”
Attendees included Armstrong faculty, staff and students as well as area professionals who were able to earn one hour of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit from the Coastal Georgia Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors for attending.
Brown’s presentation invited attendees to think about what they need to protect and how to protect it, discussing instances where firewalls, antivirus software and training were not failsafe guarantees against identity theft if the victims were susceptible to click-jacking scams, bot activity or a host of other methods. Social media scams also served as a focal point, as the exponential rise in social media usage has led to an increase in potential risk.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Brown, adding with a quip, “Bill Gates isn’t sending you any of his money.”
Among the tips Brown shared for increasing information security while online, the IT specialist stressed setting up multi-step authentication, creating separate email accounts for different uses, diversifying passwords and, above all else, being vigilant when inputting information into any device, from computers and smartphones to seemingly innocuous items like Wi-Fi-enabled crockpots.
“With every connection comes a new vulnerability to securing our identities,” Brown explained. “Understanding what information needs to be protected and how to protect it is key for our ability to protect ourselves from identity theft and fraud.”
Brown’s presentation wrapped with an overview on the Internet of Things, a collective term that refers to the constantly growing stream of devices that are gaining the capability to connect online but rarely provide built-in security. The analyst stressed the potential risks associated with connecting these insecure devices online and inputting information, emphasizing that users must understand that it is not always what is stored on a particular device, such as a FitBit or a Wi-Fi controlled sprinkler system, that is valuable; instead, being cyber secure means thinking about what other information could later be unlocked after that first entry point.
“A lot of it is thinking twice before you click,” said Brown. “The more responsibility you take upon yourself, the more secure you and your institution are as a whole.”