Russian cyberattacks concern IT experts

By Joao Vitor Bonanoni / Staff Writer

The Missouri Valley College IT Department recently highlighted the risk of potential cyberattacks on campus due to the recent events between Russia and Ukraine. 

Students received an informative email reminding them of steps to keep themselves safe when accessing online platforms. 

The IT Department, following Department of Homeland Security guidelines, recommended the following steps:

  • Never access links that seem to be abnormal or unexpected. 
  • Keep all internet devices up to date.
  • Change passwords regularly.
  • Refrain from using portable media (USB flash drives, Memory (SD) cards, and portable hard drives).

Omar Al Refae, chief information officer and principal software engineer, said the college experienced denial-of-service (DoS) attacks in the past year, however, they were minor issues that didn’t affect the college database. A couple of students have also contacted IT support to assist with problems with their devices. The college provides this service and helps students to get their devices fixed. 

Al Refae highlighted some steps to take if a student suspects that his or her device was attacked:

  • Turn off the device and contact the IT Department for support.
  • Change all the passwords to avoid any future attack. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has a lot of tips and advice to avoid cyberattacks on its website at http://www.cisa.gov.

Jen Easterly, the director of CISA, emphasized the importance of “Cyber Hygiene” in an informational video for the agency. 

“Updating your software, thinking before you click, using strong passwords or ideally a password manager and using multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts and network,” she said. 

The college is creating a new IT ticketing system that is going to provide quicker services and support to students, staff, and faculty. This project is a real-time system that will automatically alert the IT department to take care of the issue listed. 

“We will be there for them in the fastest way possible,” Al Refae said. 

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