Author Archives: Ian Burke

@MiddInfoSec: “Middlebury College!” A Well Crafted Phishing Attack Looks to Come from the College

Over the past couple of days Middlebury College has been the target of a well-crafted  phishing campaign. Phishing messages are email messages designed to trick you into divulging your username and password. In this case, the phishing messages were written so that they looked like they were sent from Middlebury’s Department of Public Safety. An example of this phishing message is included below.

Middlebury’s email system was able to filter the vast majority of these phishing messages, delivering them into each recipient’s Spam Quarantine. Even with this protection, however, a few individuals released the messages from their quarantines, opened  the messages, and clicked on the phishing links therein.

Always use caution with quarantined messages. The quarantine is specifically designed to protect you from phishing attacks.  If you have any questions about a quarantined message, contact the Help Desk or send a note to We would be glad to help.

Sample Phishing Message:


For more information on phishing please visit For additional details about spam filtering and the spam quarantine, please review Spam Filtering at Middlebury.

@MiddInfoSec: Information Security is Everyone’s Responsibility!

It is important for each of us to be aware of the increasing security risks to our increasingly connected lives. From laptops and tablets to smartphones and wearable technology, and 24/7 access to our personal data, the risk of sensitive information being exposed is very real.

  • Be Data Aware:

 Travel with, save, or record ONLY the data that is necessary and essential. Always redact or remove unnecessary sensitive data. Always keep your data backed-up and encrypted, when possible.

  • Protect Your Device:

Add a passcode to your cell phone, tablet, or laptop right now! iOS devices automatically encrypt your data once a passcode has been set. Android devices can encrypt your data with a few minor settings changes.

  • Use Strong & Unique Passwords or Passphrases:

Especially for online banking and other important accounts.

  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication when available:

Middlebury is introducing MFA for O365 and other services in 2016. Use MFA wherever possible.

  • Check Your Social Media Settings:

Review your social media security and privacy settings frequently. Enable MFA whenever possible. Keep your social media accounts current or close them.

  • Educate Yourself:

Stay informed about the latest technology trends and security issues such as malware and phishing. Visit for more information. For targeted training visit: .

  • Get Trained:

Contact ITS – Information Security at to set up a training session for your department.

@MiddInfoSec: Keeping Your Password Secure

Did you know that most passwords are easily broken? A few “secrets” can help you make a stronger more memorable password.


  • Longer is better – use at least 8 characters with upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.
  • Create an easy-to-remember passphrase  with four or more words substituting special characters for some of the letters.
  • Use a unique password for each service or account.
  • Change your password or passphrase regularly:
  • Be sure you’re on the correct website before entering your password or passphrase
  • Set a password for access to your mobile device


  • Don’t include personal information such as usernames, account numbers, address or phone numbers in your password or passphrase.
  • Don’t reuse the same password for multiple services
  • Don’t use a single word, in any language
  • Don’t use consecutive repeating characters or a number sequence
  • Don’t share your password or passphrase – even with managers, co-workers or the Help Desk
  • Don’t send your passwords through email


@MiddInfoSec: Information Security’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’

To help raise awareness about community efforts to prevent significant security issues, Middlebury Information Security has launched a ‘Security Scout of the Month’ award.

This month Information Security would like to recognize Amy Dale who promptly and accurately responded to potential malware activity by unplugging her computer and reaching out to the Help Desk for immediate assistance.

When asked, Amy shared this advice about computer security, “My previous work experience, particularly at AOL, helped prepare me to be more alert and aware of scams. A previous manager always said, “when in doubt, leave it out.”  In other words, when you’re the least bit hesitant, then don’t open/click/download, etc. “

This astute awareness and keen insight is why Amy is this month’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’.

We are excited to celebrate the hard work and security conscious efforts of our community. Please watch for the next ‘Security Scout of the Month’ and help us recognize these efforts.

If you would like to recognize an individual for their information security contributions or would like to raise an information security concern, please contact

@MiddInfoSec: Stay Safe and Secure when Online

When you are reading e-mail or browsing online, be on the lookout for suspicious links and deceptive web pages, which are major sources of malware. Also be careful of downloadable files since they can introduce malware. And remember that additional browser plugins and unused applications require additional patching to remain secure. Here are some suggestions to make your day-to-day computing more productive, safe, and secure.

  • Keep your software up-to-date. Be sure to install antivirus updates and regularly check for and install updates for any applications or browser plugins you may run on your computer. (e.g., Adobe Flash and Java)
  • Be more secure! Don’t enter sensitive or personal information into a URL unless you have verified the address and you have ensured its security by checking that it includes HTTPS.
  • When in doubt, ignore. Don’t click on pop-up windows or extraneous ads. And, don’t click on links in emails or web sites until you have verified their destinations by hovering your mouse over the link.
  • Keep your private information safe. Use a strong, unique password or passphrase for each account, and avoid storing account information on a website. And consider using a digital password wallet such as 1Password or LastPass to secure your passwords.
  • Segregate your browsing activities. Consider using separate browsers for sensitive logins and general web browsing.
  • Use private networks for sensitive transactions. Avoid checking your bank account, making purchases, or logging in to other websites that include sensitive information when using public Wi-Fi.

Go stealth when browsing. Your browser can store quite a bit of information about your online activities, including cookies, cached pages, and history. To ensure the privacy of personal information online, limit access by going “incognito” and using the browser’s private mode.

@MiddInfoSec: Information Security’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’

To help raise awareness about community efforts to prevent significant security issues, Middlebury Information Security has launched a ‘Security Scout of the Month’ award.

Highlighting the valuable contributions of community security scouts in an @MiddInfoSec blog post and on Middlebury’s Information Security web site is a great way to show how a cautious and thoughtful approach to computing can protect the College community from cyber risks. In addition, recipients will receive a twenty-five dollar Amazon gift card.

As an example, this past month, an attack against Middlebury’s Banner system was avoided thanks to the contributions of an astute member of our community, Justin Allen, who spotted a targeted phishing attack and raised the awareness around this malicious event.

As Justin Allen describes it:

     “I received an email that started out dear account owner which usually gets my attention and as I read down thru the email I noticed that it said I had signed up for a paperless W-2 which I did not and it wanted me to logon to view it. After that I noticed a couple of another things that did not make sense for my Middlebury account one was the sender of the email which wasn’t from the college at all and we all have been told time and time again if the address doesn’t end with it’s not from the college. Below is a copy of what was sent to me.”

This astute awareness is why Justin is this month’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’.

We are excited to celebrate the hard work and security conscious efforts of our community. Please watch for the next ‘Security Scout of the Month’ and help us recognize these efforts.

If you would like to recognize an individual for their information security contributions or would like to raise an information security concern, please contact

@MiddInfoSec: Preventing Device Theft

With an increasing amount of storage space and institutional connectivity on personal devices, the value and mobility of smartphones, tablets, and laptops make them appealing and easy targets. These simple tips will help you protect against and prepare for the potential loss or theft of a laptop or mobile device.

    • Don’t leave your device alone, even for a minute. If you’re not using it, lock your device in a cabinet or drawer, use a security cable, or take it with you. Middlebury has seen laptops stolen in the College library and from individual’s cars. Don’t assume your devices are safe because you feel at home with your surroundings.
    • Report any lost or stolen device promptly. Both institutional and personal devices may contain Middlebury data. Even if you only lose a personal device, work with the College’s Information Security workgroup to ensure that institutional or sensitive data is accounted for. Information Security may also be able to help you recover the device. If a device is lost or stolen contact the helpdesk at x2200 immediately.
    • Do not store extremely sensitive or internal data. Never store protected or sensitive data on your laptop. Refer to the Data Classification policy for clear definitions of data types. (
    • Keep your master and working copy of all data on network storage. Keeping your master and working copies of all of your data on Middlebury Google Drive or other secure network file storage such as Middfiles. This ensures that your data is protected and backed-up if your laptop is stolen or lost. Photos, papers, research, and other files are irreplaceable, and losing them may be worse than losing your device.
    • Record the serial number. Keep the serial number and asset tag of your device and store it in a safe place. This information can be useful for verifying your device if it’s found. This is especially important when you travel. Airport and police agencies may ask for this information when reporting lost or stolen devices.
    • Enable device tracking and wiping services. Use tracking and recovery software included with most devices (e.g., the “Find iDevice” feature in iOS) Some software includes remote-wipe capabilities. This feature allows you to log on to an online account and delete all of the information on your laptop. Mobile resources can be found here:
    • Apple iCloud:
    • Microsoft Account:
    • Android Device Manager:


@MiddInfoSec: Don’t Get Hooked

You may not realize it, but you are a phishing target at school, at work, and at home. Phishing attacks are a type of computer attack that use malicious emails to trick targets into giving up sensitive information. Ultimately, you are the most effective way to detect and stop phishing scams. When viewing email messages, texts, or social media posts, use the following techniques to prevent your passwords, personal data, or private information from being stolen by a phishing attack.

    • Verify the source. Check the sender’s email address to make sure it’s legitimate. Remember that the name of the sender is not the important part. The sender’s email address is what you are really looking for. If in doubt, forward your message to
    • Read the entire message carefully. Phishing messages may include a formal salutation, overly-friendly tone, grammatical errors, urgent requests, or gimmicks that do not match the normal tone of the sender.
    • Avoid clicking on erroneous links. Even if you know the sender, be cautious of links and attachments in messages. Don’t click on links that could direct you to a bad website. Hovering your mouse over a link should disclose the actual web address that the link is directing you too, which may be different from what is displayed in the message. Make sure this masked address is a site you want to visit.
    • Verify the intent of all attachments with the sender before opening them. Even when you know a sender, you should never open an attachment unless have checked with the sender to verify the attachment was sent intentionally. Word and Excel documents can contain malicious macros which could harm your computer. Other files, such as zip files and PDF files, could download malware onto your system. Always verify the intent of attachments with the sender before you open them from an email.
  • Verifying a message is always better than responding to a phish. If you ever receive a message that provides reason to pause, it is always better to forward the message to or to send a separate email to the sender to verify its intent, before clicking a link or opening an attachment that could potentially impact the security of your computer..
  • Change your passwords if you have fallen for a phish. If you think you have fallen for a phishing attack, change your password at go/password and then contact the helpdesk at x2200. It is also a good practice to change your personal passwords outside of the College.


Watch for phishing scams. Common phishing scams are published at sites such as , , These resources will also allow you to report phishing attacks if you should fall victim outside of the College. Again, if you think you have fallen victim to a phishing attack, always start by changing your passwords.