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Cybersafe@AACC helps students stay safe online.
The initiative offers resources and events to keep students in the know about protecting their digital lives.

Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day is observed on Jan. 28 every year around the world with the hope of creating awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information. 


Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021

Held every October, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and secure online while increasing the resilience of the Nation against cyber threats. During October 2021, Anne Arundel Community College will be sending a series of emails make you more aware of cybersecurity.

Week of October 25 (Week 4): Computer Security

Computing Security, especially for home Windows computers:

There are simple practices you can follow to improve your computer’s security.

  • Use caution with email attachments and untrusted links. Malware is commonly spread by users clicking on a malicious email attachment or a link. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe, even if they come from a person you know. Be especially wary of attachments with sensational names, emails that contain misspellings, or emails that try to entice you into clicking on a link or attachment.
  • Create strong passwords. Use the strongest, longest password or passphrase permitted. Don’t use passwords that attackers can easily guess, like your birthday or your child’s name. Attackers can use software to conduct dictionary attacks, which try common words that may be used as passwords. They also conduct brute force attacks, which are random password attempts that run until one is successful. When setting security verification questions, choose questions and answers for which an internet search would not easily yield the correct answer (e.g., your pet’s name).
  • Use the Windows Defender Firewall. The installed firewall can help prevent hackers or malicious software from gaining access to your PC through the internet or a network.

Configure the Microsoft Firewall. The installed firewall can protect your computer from unnecessary To turn Microsoft Defender Firewall on:

  1. Select the Start button > Settings  > Windows Defender Firewall 
  2. Select Turn Window Defender Firewall ON (or OFF)
  3. Under Microsoft DefenderFirewall, switch the setting to On. If your device is connected to a network, network policy settings or installed malware protection might prevent you from completing these steps.
  • Install and use antivirus software. Installing an antivirus software program and keeping it up-to-date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Many types of antivirus software can detect the presence of malware by searching for patterns in your computer’s files or memory. Antivirus software uses signatures provided by software vendors to identify malware. Vendors frequently create new signatures to ensure their software is effective against newly discovered malware. Many antivirus programs offer automatic updating. If your program has automatic updates, enable them so your software always has the most current signatures. If automatic updates aren’t offered, be sure to install the software from a reputable source, such as the vendor’s website.
    Note: AACC uses McAfee for antivirus.  It is recommended that antivirus from a different vendor be used for non-college provided computers for another layer of protection.
  • Remove unnecessary software. Intruders can attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities, so the fewer software programs you have installed, the fewer avenues there are for potential attack. Review the software installed on your computer. If you don’t know what a software program does, research the program to determine whether or not the program is necessary. Remove any software you feel isn’t necessary after confirming it’s safe to remove. Back up important files and data before removing unnecessary software to prevent accidentally removing programs that turn out to be essential to your OS. If possible, locate the installation media (e.g., CD) for the software in case you need to reinstall it.
  • Modify unnecessary default features. Like removing unnecessary software, modifying or deleting unnecessary default features reduces attackers’ opportunities. Review the features that are enabled by default on your computer, and disable or customize those you don’t need or don’t plan on using. As with removing unnecessary software, be sure to research features before modifying or disabling them.
  • Operate under the principle of least privilege. In most instances of malware infection, the malware can operate only using the privileges of the logged-in user. To minimize the impact of a malware infection, consider using a standard or restricted user account (i.e., a non-administrator account) for day-to-day activities. Only log in with an administrator account—which has full operating privileges on the system—when you need to install or remove software or change your computer’s system settings.
  • Secure your web browser. When you first install a web browser on a new computer, it will not usually have secure settings by default, you will need to adjust your browser’s security settings manually. Securing your browser is another critical step in improving your computer’s security by reducing attacks that take advantage of unsecured web browsers.
  • Apply software updates and enable automatic updates. Most software vendors release updates to patch or fix vulnerabilities, flaws, and weaknesses (bugs) in their software. Intruders can exploit these vulnerabilities to attack your computer. Keeping your software updated helps prevent these types of infections. When setting up a new computer, go to your software vendors’ websites to check for and install all available updates. Many OSs and software programs have options for automatic updates. Enable automatic updates if they are offered; doing so will ensure your software is always updated, and you won’t have to remember to do it yourself. Only download software updates directly from a vendor’s website, from a reputable source, or through automatic updates.
  • Back up your system. By regularly backing up your important files, you minimize the risk of a complete system failure caused by malware.

 

IF YOU’VE BEEN COMPROMISED

Infections can be devastating to an individual and recovery can be a difficult process that may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist. If your computer has been compromised by malware, you can either consult with a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware or use a legitimate program to help eliminate the infection.

Some legitimate programs are:

 

The list below outlines the government organizations that you can file a complaint with if you are a victim of cybercrime.

US-CERT.gov Report computer or network vulnerabilities to US-CERT via the hotline: 1-888-282-0870 or www.us-cert.gov.

IC3.gov File a complaint with the Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), at www.IC3.gov.

FTC.gov If you think your computer or mobile device has been infected with malware, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

SSA.gov If you believe someone is using your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271. For additional resources, visit the SSA at https://oig.ssa.gov/report/


Studying Cybersecurity at AACC

If you're interested in studying cybersecurity or related technology, we have lots of options and resources.

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Noncredit Computers and Technology

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Consumer Alert

Increasing Reports of Extortion Scams

Read the Maryland Attorney General's message

Avoiding Email Scams

Email provides a convenient and powerful communications tool. Unfortunately, it also provides scammers and other malicious individuals an easy means for luring potential victims.  

Learn more about recognizing and avoiding email scams and how you can protect yourself and your information.

Where to Report a Scam

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, business practices, and identity theft.

The Better Business Bureau collects and provides free business reviews to advance marketplace trust. View scams or file your own complaint online.