Cybersecurity Attacks Down Across Campus

After building cybersecurity modules into GOA, XU has had fewer breaches

By Mo Juenger | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of COX Blue

Cybersecurity attacks are decreasing this schoolyear at Xavier University, and many believe the downturn is linked to new cybersecurity training and events provided to students and faculty.

During the 2018-19 schoolyear, Xavier saw 185 cybersecurity attacks. Many of these were perpetrated through email phishing scams, with a notable case in which students were seemingly provided a job offer and subsequently had their bank account information stolen.

“The issue really has to do with cybercriminals coming after Xavier students, faculty, and staff through phishing,” said Associate Provost and Chief Information Officer Jeff Edwards.

This year, there have been only 19 people victimized by cybercriminals. Edwards believes the 16 of these which occurred in September may be linked to a third-party breach with online book retailer Chegg.

“This year there was a breach at Chegg, and 3,400 accounts were included,” said Edwards. “We don’t know for sure, but we believe that the 16 students this month could be correlated.”

Outside of third-party information theft, the large decrease in cybersecurity issues on campus can be correlated to an increase in student awareness.

“We built cybersecurity information into GOA and required all student employees to complete cybersecurity training,” said Edwards. Student awareness of the problem has risen, and with this fewer attempted attacks are successful.

Edwards also noted that Xavier University puts in place measures to prevent even attempts. The university utilizes AI to prevent malware from infecting campus computers on campus.

Students have also noted the decrease in cybersecurity attacks and phishing scams this year.

“We have had those previous issues, but there’s been less with more educational materials available. I think we could still use more education on how to be more cybersecure around campus, though,” said junior marketing major Bethany Young.

One senior computer science major noted cybersecurity issues still present on campus. “The Help Desk, they store all your passwords. You can just call them up and they’ll tell you.”

First year biomedical sciences major Emma Sanabia commented on the influence of GOA in cybersecurity education at Xavier, saying that it would beneficial for the training to play a much larger role in the class.

“I think that a lot of students don’t take it seriously enough. I think there’s a lot of scams that students can buy into. We’re so vulnerable to it, and we don’t really know what to do about it yet.”

Jeff Edwards noted that this awareness is a top priority for the cybersecurity team. “We do what we can to make sure students are aware, some of it is awareness training and some of it is communication.”

The department plans to host several on-campus events throughout the year in order to spread this awareness to students and promote communication regarding cybercriminal activity.

Xavier’s cyber security team will be hosting several educational events this month to help to educate students on preventative methods.