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dangerous-software-1200_croppedImagine that you are working to meet a midnight paper submission deadline.

Suddenly your computer freezes. Reboots don’t help. The Engineering major down the hall can’t help. Midnight passes helpless. The next day the repair specialist tells you that a wicked virus trashed your machine and only a total reformatting of the hard drive will save it. It is expensive.

Even worse, all of your data including your paper, drafts, research and earlier works are just plain gone.

This heartbreak is a genuine possibility, but the odds against it can be radically shifted in your favor.

“OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year.”

To understand how we may ward ourselves against digital catastrophe at OSU I spoke with Lois Brooks, Vice-Provost of Information Services (IS), and Dave

lois_brooks

Lois Brooks


Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Information Security.

These guardians of our networked community had two salient calls to action for you: be aware and compute safely.

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Dave Nevin

 

Being aware means paying attention to the daily changes in our network ecosystem in order to take appropriate action.

For example, are you aware that this week OSU Information Services is recommending an Apple computer patch and device update in order to address new security risks to the Apple OS?

If you are not aware of this current threat, then you are not network secure, no matter what operating system you use.

“Criminal hackers seek to access your personal information (e.g. SSN) and sell sell it to high-end information identity thieves.”

Nevin is blunt about the risks to the inattentive; “OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year. The hostile attacks are from criminal organizations seeking personal information and intellectual property. OSU can prevail against this assault only if students, faculty and other members contribute by safeguarding their computers and devices against the hostile hackers.”

I was like; “Did I hear that right? 16 million attacks per day? Why would anyone even do that?”

The answer is that your Social Security number and other personal information is stored digitally at OSU which criminal hackers can immediately sell it to high-end information identity thieves.

Nevin observes; “It’s tough. We’re out-numbered. The people we’re fighting against to protect that information are smart, and have a lot of resources available to them. But we have smart people too, and we’re working together to do everything we can to prevent t1hat from happening.”

norse_map

NORSE Attack Map

To see a live display of network attacks around the globe, see the NORSE Hack Attack Map (do check this out because it is amazing!)

Brooks is OSU’s chief information officer and is ultimately responsible for the University’s information technology (IT) policy and budget.

She explained to me in detail the delicate balance between security, safety and privacy at the large scale of the university enterprise.

“All OSU members participate in a social compact with one another to ensure a secure community of trust and shared resources. It requires that every individual take personal responsibility to meet that overall aim.”

Do your part by keeping all of your devices fully patched using current anti-virus and anti-malware available to you for free from Information Services.

Sometimes safety goes beyond network hacks and enters the realm of physical threat.

Brooks and Nevin affirm that OSU cooperates with law enforcement to protect public safety.

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On occasion this involves accessing information from the accounts of individuals.

Brooks emphasizes how extraordinary such instances are; “Even though we need to be able to respond when there is a problem, we at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Ours is a culture of respect and I speak from experience to vouch for the integrity of our university leadership in upholding these values.

For you, dear reader, there follows from this balance of privacy and safety a principle based in the wisdom of discretion.

That is: do not use OSU network resources to post information that potentially puts you and others at risk.

Create your own balance of safety and privacy by keeping your machines full patched against hacking and by maintaining intellectually responsible content.

This is what it means on Overheard at OSU when someone posts; “Keep it classy Beavers.”

“We at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Here are two simple steps that you can take to do your part in upholding safety and respect at OSU.

Be Aware: Build your expertise about the OSU’s security ecosystem at “Be Aware!”

is.Oregon State.edu/accounts-support/be-aware

Free Software: Turn your computer and devices into a personal anti-hacking fortress by installing the free and essential software at:

“Anti-virus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement.”

Nevin invites all OSU members to contact him about network security and privacy issues: Dave.Nevin@oregonstate.edu.

Brooks has an open door policy concerning all OSU IT matterantivirus-icon[2]s: Lois.Brooks@oregonstate.edu.

You can always write to me about anything.
drtech@oregonstate.edu

I promise to make sure that your comments get to the appropriate people and I will write you back.

Have a great start to Spring term, invest some time in your network awareness and safety and keep it classy, Beavers.

Resources

OSU Office of Information Security

OSU Antivirus Software

OSU Campus Civility and Inclusivity Campaign

 

Image Acknowledgements

dangerous-software.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/office-information-security-created

Dave_nevin.jpg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-nevin-a9a9b2

lois_brooks.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/adminserv

norse_map.png
http://map.norsecorp.com/#/

osu_recommended_software.png
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

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http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

HIV_StructureSince it was identified in 1983, HIV has infected 78 million people world-wide.

Half of the people infected with HIV have died from AIDS.

For three decades researchers have been seeking effective treatment for AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

These objectives are high aims given the challenges that the HIV virus poses.

HIV is as sneaky a virus as it is deadly.

One of the infection strategies of the HIV virus is to establish hiding places in the body in which it may lay dormant ready to re-emerge as a persistent infection.

Since HIV attacks the immune system, disabling the body’s defenses, infected cells do not produce HIV antigens making them indistinguishable from uninfected cells.HIV_Epidem

These research and medical challenges are well described in an article by Genevieve Martin, Hidden Menace.

Yet, in 2015 there appear to be several breakthroughs that some scientists characterize as a “renaissance in HIV vaccine research and development.”

Treatments have improved to the level that many with HIV may live decades without developing AIDS.

Medical trials have demonstrated individuals who test negative for HIV after5425951169_1a17b23c46_o experimental treatments.

Researchers have reached a level of collective understanding about HIV that a vaccine is a practical objective.

The best article that I have read about these recent advances is Defeating the Virus by Wayne C. Koff.

As knowledge in science and medicine grows it is critical that intelligence people generally stay informed.

Death may come to all, but you and I may soon live in a world where HIV/AIDS is not the deadly cause that it has been for so long.

Image Acknowledgements

HIV_Structure.jpg
http://www.biocab.org/HIV_Structure.jpg

5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5051/5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg

HIV_Epidem.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/HIV_Epidem.png

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