Director's Corner: Beware of cyberattacks

Marilyn Wolf
Marilyn Wolf

Welcome to another installment of Director's Corner. Our school director will use this personal message forum for a variety of purposes: important information, inspiration, and a little bit of fun.

The ongoing war by Russia against the Ukranian people and their democracy reminds us of the importance of defending democracies around the globe. The prosecution of this war also highlights the role of computers as weapons of war. The physical attacks on Ukraine were preceded by cyberattacks against the Ukranian people and their government. We need to be ready and able to fight cyberaggression as we promote computing as a tool for peace and progress.

Here are articles to help you understand the role of computers and computer scientists in the Ukraine war:

2022 Ukraine cyberattacks - Wikipedia
Tech Companies Help Defend Ukraine Against Cyberattacks - The New York Times (

This message from UNL’s Chief Information Officer provides you with some practical advice to help you protect yourself and your neighbors:

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Due to federal concerns linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are asking that our entire campus community take a few protective steps to shield themselves and university systems from potential cyberattacks.

I would like to pause and let our Husker family know that our hearts go out to those at home and abroad who are affected by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. If you need support, please reach out to our colleagues in Global Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Employee Assistance Program.

The chance for cyberattacks is very real as the United States and other nations respond and institute sanctions against Russia. But with a few simple steps, our community has the power to reduce the success of any attacks and, ultimately, protect ourselves.

Steps that you can follow to layer in added safety to guard your accounts, devices and data include:

Be aware of phishing attempts — If you encounter suspicious messages or attachments, please use the “Report Phish” button in the Outlook client or in your Outlook Web Access.

Use free anti-virus protection from Cortex XDR — All university-owned computers should have Cortex in place. If yours does not, please open a help ticket with your local IT support team. The university also offers a version of Cortex for free to use on personal devices. Learn more about Cortex.

Vigilance of two-factor authentication — Two-factor adds an extra level of account protection. University accounts use Duo to verify identity. Other email systems and social media platforms often offer two-factor as well. If you are receiving unexpected Duo authentication attempts via Push, Voice or SMS, your password may be compromised. If so, change your password immediately using TrueYou self service. Learn more about Duo

Guard your passwords — If you have not changed your True You password recently, do so here. It’s a good policy to update all of your passwords — and that doesn’t mean using the same one for all accounts — every three months. And, when updating your password, be certain to follow guidelines for creating codes that are difficult to break. Learn more about creating strong passwords.

These and additional tips for protecting yourself and improving cybersecurity are available here.

Our ITS Security Team continues to monitor and guard our systems from cyberattacks. But you play a key role in that process simply by being aware, using the protections we have in place, and setting strong passwords. Together we can reduce the threat and help our university continue on its teaching, research and service missions.

Heath Tuttle, PhD (he, him, his)
UNL Chief Information Officer
Associate Vice President for Information Technology