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CSAM: Cyber security – we’re in this together!

This October, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get involved in the University of Toronto’s annual Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) activities, happening across all three campuses, starting Oct. 1.

October is just around the corner and while temperatures may be dropping, cyber security education and awareness will be on the rise.

The start of a new school year brings with it new cyber risks and threats. The University of Toronto’s (U of T) Information Security team is tackling issues of privacy and data protection by hosting its annual Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) activities across all three campuses, starting Oct. 1.

Part of this year’s focus will be on how individuals and the University must work together to keep its systems and people secure. The overall theme will be: “One Team. One Goal.”

“We’re in this together – Universities are places of open inquiry, exchange of information, and collaboration,” explains Isaac Straley, U of T’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Information Security. “Information security and privacy can be a challenge in this environment, but it is not a zero sum game. We do, though, have to help each other out.”

CSAM activities will include pop-up booths at all three campuses, staffed by security team members. At the booths, students, faculty and staff will have the chance to meet University employees who help protect their privacy and data as well as pick up resources about how to practise information security in the office, classroom, academic spaces and at home.

“The increasing need to develop critical cyber security skills is an important message for the entire University audience and I’m really excited to see this initiative broaden its support to the tri-campus community,” says Luke Barber, Director of Information & Instructional Technology Services for U of T Mississauga. “I think we’ll all see benefits and learning outcomes far greater than the sum of our individual efforts in doing so!”

Zoran Piljevic, Director of Information & Instructional Technology Services at U of T Scarborough, agrees. He says regardless of whether you are at work or school, the organization’s online safety and security is a responsibility that we all share. “Our data is valuable and we need to incorporate a daily routine of vigilance when handling information,” says Piljevic. “We look forward to emphasizing resistance and resilience through our education, training and awareness efforts in October at the Scarborough campus.”

Other CSAM-related events taking place throughout the month will include contests, an Information Security Council Panel discussion and social media polls. For a full list of events, visit the Security Matters calendar.

Straley, who joined U of T as its first-appointed CISO in December 2018, will also be hosting an invitation-only “Coffee with the CISO” event at each campus.

A recognized thought leader in information security and privacy, Straley held a similar CISO role at the University of California for 13 years. His top security tips to the U of T community are: “Be thoughtful about unexpected emails, especially those with urgent demands, be careful about the apps you install on your devices, and always check privacy setting and default sharing. You do not have to be an expert or work hard to make a real difference.”