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ISO’s Mobile Device Security Day raises student awareness

Students and faculty gathered in Rangos Hall to learn how to make their mobile devices more secure and learn about mobile device security from several different cell phone vendors last Wednesday.
The Information Security Office (ISO) hosted the exhibition of mobile device security. According to their website, the ISO “collaborates with the campus community to protect Carnegie Mellon from and to respond to threats to our electronic information resources and computing and networking infrastructure.”

The ISO is focusing on mobile device security to honor October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

According to a campus-wide email sent out by the ISO advertising the event, for the first time, a majority of Americans have smartphones — 56 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. The email read, “Cybercriminals are now targeting these devices to steal data and commit fraud.”

The event, which lasted six hours, featured tables set up by several prominent cell phone carriers and software security companies, including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and Symantec.

Nancy Zuzak, a senior advantage program representative at T-Mobile, said that the event aimed to teach students how to make their smartphones more secure. “What we were invited to do today was help the students and the faculty understand ways to address mobile security on their smartphones.”

T-Mobile, Zuzak said, recently launched more security features for its devices. Zuzak also highlighted some basic safety tips, such as protecting smartphones with a password and using applications that can alert the user to a phone’s location if it’s lost or stolen.

“It could be something as simple as using an application called LookOut, which is a free application, so you can find your smartphone. We also highlighted that one of the best practices is to password protect your device,” Zuzak said.

Dennis Csordas, a business development manager for T-Mobile, mentioned an application that users can install on their phones that “takes a picture of the person trying to unlock your phone and sends it to you in an email. And if you lose it, it makes a siren sound.”

Even if a mobile device user just loses his or her phone between couch cushions, Csordas said, an application like this can save time and effort by broadcasting the phone’s location via GPS and with noise.

The ISO also provides mobile device security tips on its website. It recommends, for example, that users password-protect their devices, report lost and stolen devices, regularly back up data, and follow safe cell phone disposal practices.

The ISO even recommends installing antivirus software on mobile devices. “Mobile devices can be just as susceptible to viruses as desktop computers,” according to the ISO website. “This is new terrain for hackers but industry analysts expect viruses, Trojans, spam, and all manner of scams to grow as the mobile device market grows.”

Some students don’t worry about mobile device security due in part to the efforts of the ISO.

“I feel it’s pretty secure, especially on CMU campus. It’s a secure area; our school is technologically advanced. So, it’s not something I really worry about,” said sophomore biology and psychology major Leslie Tay.

Carnegie Mellon’s University Police were also at the event; officers registered students’ laptops so that if they were ever lost or stolen University Police would have the the serial number.

“We take the serial number down, and we mark on the back in invisible pen. That way we have it on file if your laptop’s ever stolen or lost,” said Michael Ufheil, a member of the Carnegie Mellon University Police’s Crime Prevention Unit. “We can check either with local pawn shops, or, if City of Pittsburgh Police come in contact with it, they know to check with us, and that way they’ll see that it’s from Carnegie Mellon and they’ll get a hold of us and we’ll get a hold of you,” he continued.

The event featured talks throughout the day about mobile security from many of the attendees, including Apple, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Google Glass.

More information about the ISO and its particpation in National Cyber Security Awareness Month can be found on their website at https://www.cmu.edu/iso/aware/ncsam/index.html.