Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Trine expert offers safety tips

October 01, 2014

You answer a Facebook question asking about your first car. Stop. Think. Connect. 

You click on a link in an email from PayPal stating that your account has been locked. Stop.  Think. Connect.

You use your debit card to pay for an online purchase. Stop. Think.  Connect.

These are routine actions, but your response should not become routine. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a good time to assess your online security skills and adopt ways to safeguard yourself and your online accounts.

President Obama tasked the Department of Homeland Security with creating a cybersecurity awareness campaign – Stop. Think. Connect. The goal is to help Americans understand the risks that come with being online. 

The campaign encourages Internet users to:

  • Stop. Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • Think. Take a moment to be certain that path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety.
  • Connect. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you have taken the right step to safeguard yourself and your computer.

As chair of Trine University’s new cybersecurity program,Bill Barge offers a few pointers for Internet users. Please consider these points when using social media and email.

  • Be careful what information you share on social media such as Facebook.  Answering an innocent question may give a criminal the information needed to access your account. What questions are used as security questions by your bank? Common questions ask for your mother’s maiden name, the name of your high school, the name of your first employer and even the make and model of your first car. You probably have enough information you on your Facebook account right now that someone could answer many of these security questions. Think before you post any information about yourself online.
  • The email with the salutation “Dear Valued PayPal Customer” is not from PayPal. They know your name. It is a phishing scheme designed to get you to click on the link and enter your PayPal user identity and password. If one person in 1,000 clicks on the link, the scheme is a success for the criminal. Do not click on the link. Delete the email. If you are concerned about your account, go to the PayPal website and log into your account. Do not click on links in the email messages you receive.
  • Debit cards are linked to your bank account. While debit cards may offer some protection, a criminal can withdraw a large sum of money from your bank account with a fraudulent charge. By contrast, that same fraudulent charge on a credit card keeps the risk with the credit card issuer and your money in your bank account. Use a credit card instead of a debit card whenever possible.   

For more information about Trine University’s major in cybersecurity, call the Office of Admission at 260.665.4100, contact professor Bill Barge at or 260.665.4298 or visit cybersecurity.

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