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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Life + Arts

Cybersecurity threatens Gen Z, UH officials offer tips

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

While awareness has increased, practicing crucial cybersecurity measures continues to be a hassle for Generation Z. According to Vox, a recent Deloitte study revealed that Gen Z is three times more likely than boomers to be scammed online and also twice as likely to have a social media account hacked.

Falling for online scams has been costly for Gen-Z. Social Catfish’s 2023 report found that victims under 20 years old lost an estimated $8.2 million in 2017 and $210 million in 2022.

Masters of Science in Cybersecurity senior Austin T. Haynes said that he thinks Gen-Zers are more likely to fall prey to cybercriminals due to their frequent online activities.

“I think Gen-Zers don’t necessarily have the motivation to look at things from a security perspective more diligently,” Haynes said. “Thus, they become victims.”

Haynes’ theory is also one that Vox gives to explain Gen Z’s susceptibility to the dangers of the web. Some other potential factors include Gen Z’s familiarity with the web and a relative lack of early cybersecurity education.

However, it’s never too late for Gen Z to become technologically literate. UH offers cybersecurity training for all users of UH System networks. But Department of Information Technology professor Arthur W. Conklin thinks students don’t take proper advantage of that.

“The problem with all user awareness training is that the student has little incentive to pay attention and learn,” Conklin said. “They view it as just yet another task thrust upon them, and they finish with as little effort as possible.” 

But when it comes to cybersecurity, effort is everything. Although logging into AccessUH with Duo Security might be tedious or annoying to students, computer science major and CougarCS Information Security Director Nathan Hunt said the portal contains sensitive information that students must diligently protect.

“I think a common thought is, ‘What’s the point? I have nothing to hide,’” Hunt said. ”Well that’s not entirely true. To allow something with that much personal info to be protected by any weak set of credentials is inviting an attacker to make your life harder. The idea should never be ‘I have nothing to hide.’ It should be ‘what do I have to lose?’”

Haynes shared some tips to stay safe online. He said to never post in real time because it gives cybercriminals information on their victims’ whereabouts, which can be later used against them. Create long, complex passwords for each account and don’t click on suspicious email links. Most importantly, Haynes advised students to slow down. 

“Cybersecurity is often viewed as a hindrance because we are often slowing down things to ensure we go about it securely,” Haynes said. “Implementing these tips does take a little bit more time. However, it will drastically reduce the risk of you being compromised and if you do get compromised, it will reduce the impact.”

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