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OIT Technology News: October 2011


OIT Technology News: October 2011

Welcome to Security Awareness Month!

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  This edition of Technology News features a number of articles focused on security issues.  We've also posted an online training designed primarily for Faculty and Staff detailing how to store and share sensitive data using Locker and Inside.SMU.  Please take a few moments this month to increase your knowledge about Cyber Security!

Security Awareness 2011 Online Training

Password Security:

Why do I have to change my password every 6 months and why do we have password complexity rules?

Password resetPasswords provide access to many personal and university resources, including academic information, financial information, donor information, personal information and more.  In today’s society, more malicious attempts are being made on a regular basis to “hack” into a person’s account or gain access to university information using a person’s ID and password.  Many times this information may be used for purposes of identity theft or financial theft. The best way to ward off these attempts is to require frequent password changes and enforce password complexity rules.  SMU has a specific Password Management Policy – Policy Number 12.6 that can be found at:

Your password protects sensitive information about you and about all those connected to our University community.  As technology expands, so does the use of electronic systems that store and manipulate information.  With this increase in use of technology comes the need to proactively secure that information.  Many system wide attacks can begin with a single compromise of an individual account.  Taking that into consideration, it is important that every account be secured with a password that is hard to hack and that is changed on a regular basis.   

Password tips and tricks can be found on our website

Password Managers:
What are they and should I use one?

Password ManagerFor those who are challenged with managing multiple different passwords for different accounts they might consider using a password manager, also known as a password vault.  A password manager is a piece of software that helps someone to organize their own passwords or pin codes.   It typically is a local database that encrypts passwords and the database itself uses a master password to open it.   Some types of password managers also acts as a Form Filler, where once a particular website is launched, and it prompts for a username and password, the password manager recognizes the request and will automatically fill the user name and password into the form.  This type of password manager can be used as a defense against “phishing” as it is setup to handle automated logins to a particular site, and will not work with an imitation or a look alike website. 

Some password managers include a password generator.  In this case, when you define an entry in the database for a password, the password manager can generate a password that can be stored and used as needed.  There are also password managers that are available online.  This type of tool is a web based version similar to a desktop password manager, but allows for more portability.

Password managers have pros and cons.  Some of the pros are listed above, while one of the main cons is that if your computer (or phone if you have a password manager on your smartphone) is lost, so are your passwords.  Even though they may be protected and encrypted inside of the password manager, you no longer have access to that information.

(A few password manager tools are Keepass, Lastpass, Roboform, Kaspersky Password Manager and 1password)

Dear Diary, My password is...

Did you know...

The most popular password is "123456" followed closely by "password"!  Make sure you are protecting all of your accounts with a strong password!

Copyright at SMU

©Copyright law protects the creator of a work and his right to profit from that work. It protects musical works (including lyrics), dramatic works (including accompanying music), choreographed works, movies, video games, paintings, novels, software code, sculptures, architectural works and more. All literature is protected under copyright law.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Copyright infringement is a federal crime and you are ultimately responsible for the data you download, include on paper, or on a personal web site.

As part of the Acceptable Use Policy here at SMU, a person agrees to not use university resources for unauthorized duplication, use or distribution of copyrighted materials, including music and video files.  These types of activities are deemed illegal according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and violators are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your online activity and downloads are legitimate.  Although IT does not police downloading and file sharing, we are legally obligated to act on any reports of copyright infringement provided by various entities.  For more information on our process, visit SMU's Plan for Combating Illegal File Sharing