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Own your role in cybersecurity

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

By Corey Oxenbury

October 7, 2021

Over head shot of person sitting at a computer, words Every member of the Metropolitan State University of Denver community should own their role in protecting their information and securing their systems and devices. There are many steps individuals can take to enhance their cybersecurity without requiring significant investment or the help of an information-security professional. Below are eight tips you can put into action right now:

  • Make a long, unique pass phrase. MSU Denver passwords have minimum-length and -complexity requirements, but you should consider creating a pass phrase that exceeds them. A strong pass phrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember.
  • Pass phrases aren’t enough. Whenever offered, set up and use multifactor-authentication methods such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. MSU Denver requires MFA on all University NetID accounts.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails, texts, tweets, posts, social-media messages and online advertising are the easiest way for cybercriminals to get your sensitive information. Be wary of clicking on links or downloading anything you weren’t expecting or that came from a stranger.
  • Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including personal computers, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from viruses, ransomware and other malware. Configure your devices to automatically update or to notify you when an update is available.
  • Back it up. Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely. If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyberthreats, you will be able to restore the data from a backup. Use the 3-2-1 rule as a guide to backing up your data: Keep at least three copies of your data and store two backup copies on different storage media, with one of them offsite. Remember to encrypt these backups, or all this critical data would be at risk if the device were misplaced or stolen.
  • Own your online presence. Every time you sign up for a new account, download a new app or get a new device, immediately configure the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information-sharing. Regularly check these settings (at least once a year) to make sure they are still configured to your comfort. Personal accounts should be registered with a personal email address, not your MSU Denver email address.
  • Share with care. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a message reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others. Be especially cautious when dealing with any information that’s protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to them. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging in to key accounts such as email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network or personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection.

This is part of a series of articles for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. If you ever want more information, we strongly encourage you to check or for resources and information about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and cybersecurity in general.

Thank you for helping keep MSU Denver safe and cybersecure. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Information Technology Services Service Desk at 303-352-7548 or

Next: Fight the phish.

Topics: Cybersecurity, Safety, Technically Speaking, Technology

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