The U.S. has been monitoring the potential for Russian cyberattacks since early March. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.
Bridgett Dillenburger | Incoming Online Editor-in-Chief
UDit and Public Safety urged the university community to be cautious of suspicious emails, links and attachments that may threaten computer and server security amid national concerns of potential Russian cyberattacks.
The U.S. has been monitoring these risks since early March as the Russian-Ukraine conflict has intensified. These suspicions were heightened after Russia targeted Ukraine’s government, military and civilians through two major cyberattacks, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.
In a press release on March 21, President Joe Biden said private companies and individuals need to help protect against these threats regarding their own systems, not just the government. His administration is taking critical steps to strengthen defense and Congress has supported their efforts by requiring companies to report cyber incidents to the government.
“You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of the critical services and technologies on which Americans rely,” said Biden. “We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time — your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.”
FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran testified to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the importance of reporting cyber incidents in order for action to be taken as quickly as possible. While a specific attack on the U.S. has not been confirmed to occur, Vorndran said there is evidence of increased Russian hackers scanning the U.S. in the past month, suggesting the need for greater precautions.
In early March, UDit and Public Safety expressed concerns for cybersecurity and said the community must be mindful of potential threats. On March 24, after the release of the statement from President Biden, these campus concerns were restated.
The university’s connections to research with the Department of Defense increases the likelihood of being a target of a cyberattack. Current campus infrastructure, such as 2-factor authentication, system backups and automatic software updates for university computers, remain in place as safeguards for local security. Additionally, UDit staff have been increasingly attentive to unusual activity across campus servers through proactive monitoring.
To take preventative measures, the UDit Service Center encourages the community to be highly suspicious of unsolicited messages. Do not open a link or attachment unless the sender can be confidently confirmed, even if the source may appear to be credible. These messages could contain destructive malware that will infect systems and resources.
Personal devices should be up-to-date with antivirus software and any documents should be regularly backed up. Individual attention to these possible threats is critical in the defense against cyberattacks. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to be mindful of these precautions for the security of campus systems and data.
For any concerns of suspicious activity, contact the IT Service Center at ITservicecenter