October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and a reminder that it’s up to each and every Highlander to protect our campus community from cyber criminals.
In fact, if there’s one thing learning and working remotely has taught us, it’s that we need to be cyber smart as we rely on technology to continue our studies, research, and University business. That’s because our personal information and campus data is at risk if we don’t take proper cybersecurity measures and remain vigilant when opening emails, sending sensitive data, and browsing online.
The good news is that UC Riverside is on the lookout for common cyber threats like phishing attacks. At the beginning of the year Information Technology Solutions (ITS) launched a 6-month phishing campaign to assess UCR’s risk of cyberattack and educate campus users to help mitigate actual phishing lures. The data collected through this campaign indicated that UCR’s phishing vigilance is on par with other organizations. Each phishing lure simulation that was emailed to campus contained links. If any of the links were clicked, that data was recorded and the user was directed to helpful cybersecurity tips and resources. At the end of each month the average number of clicks was compared to aggregate data from other organizations.
Overall, UCR was either at or below the baseline average. Notably, in March our click rate was 35.8% compared to the baseline average of 14%. One possible explanation for this increase in users responding to the phishing lure in March is the mass change experienced by our campus and local community in response to COVID-19. While it is understandable that folks would be more susceptible during a tumultuous time, it is clear from the recent rise in phishing attacks that cyber criminals look to capitalize on our moments of vulnerability. As UCR begins a new school year remotely, it’s more important than ever that every campus user know how to identify potential cyber threats and report them accordingly.
To learn more about how UCR did during the phishing campaign, view the ITS Phishing Campaign Report Card video. For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month and ways to be cyber smart, visit cybersmart.ucr.edu.