Community members required to watch online security video by Oct. 31

Sept. 28, 2012, 12:17 a.m.
Community members required to watch online security video by Oct. 31
Stanford students must watch a video about online information security by Oct. 31 or the next time they log into a Stanford-affilitated website they will be directed to the video. (MEHMET INONU/The Stanford Daily)

A new requirement by Stanford’s Information Security Office (ISO) will oblige
all Stanford community members to watch an online information security awareness
video by Oct. 31 or risk account disconnection.

“Security incidents are happening all the time, certainly at a higher rate than we’d like to see, and the vast majority of them are preventable,” wrote David Hoffman, ISO information systems specialist, in an email to The Daily.

“I think [the video] is really helpful,” said Will Dannemann ’14, a Suites resident computing consultant (RCC). “There’s a lot of information in it that people wouldn’t appreciate normally, and it’s good to reiterate.”

Some students have yet to be notified of the requirement, which has been circulated through dorm RCCs. New faculty, staff and sponsored affiliates were notified of the requirement earlier.

The 15-minute video advises users to take advantage of security software and safe browsing practices, through a stick-figure-based presentation representing online threats as similar to those encountered in urban environments.

“The Internet is like a big town where there’s a sucker born every minute. Don’t be one of them,” the video warns.

“A lot of what you learned about staying in the real world can help you stay safe online, too,” it says, noting that Stanford’s network is attacked one million times every day by probes seeking vulnerabilities.

The video also cautions against file sharing and copyright infringement, which it describes as one of the most common misuses of the Stanford network and one potentially resulting in internal or external judicial ramifications.

According to the presentation, Stanford students have to date spent over $150,000 of their own money settling lawsuits resulting from copyright infringements, and could face suspension or even expulsion from the University for the same offense.

“Stanford takes this stuff seriously, and so should you,” the video warns.

Dannemann described the average Stanford student as behaving in a responsible manner online, but welcomed the University’s efforts to ensure such behavior across the entire community.

“There’s a wide variety of experience levels across the Stanford population, and it doesn’t seem to matter much whether you’re talking about students, staff or faculty,” Hoffman said, noting that the ISO has long sought to provide SUNet users with basic safety information.

Hoffman framed the video as part of a broader effort to educate the Stanford community about information security and safe online practices, noting the University’s provision of tools for mobile security and two-step authentication.

“We’re always trying to make things better,” Hoffman wrote. “It’s important for people to have the tools to protect themselves.”

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.

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