Cyber Security Awareness

Cyber Security Awareness

With the increase of technological conveniences that make our lives easier, we are sharing more of our information now than ever before. This occurs not just through your smart phone or computer but also through your smart watch, the Bluetooth in your car, or even through the app that operates the lights in your apartment. We are constantly connected to the internet which can make us vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

There is no fool proof way to avoid cyber-attacks but here are a few ways to keep yourself safe:

Anti-Virus Software

Having anti-virus protection is essential to preventing serious damage to your computer caused by viruses. Many internet service providers (ISP) have free anti-virus software available for customers. Call your ISP or log in to your account to find out how you can download your free copy.

Security Updates

Keep up with the latest security updates and patches for your software, web browsers and operating systems. Most programs will update automatically to keep up with defense against viruses and malware. Make sure automatic updates are turned on if that option is available.

Strong Password Management

Create strong passwords to protect your accounts online. A word or phrase of at least 8 characters that combines letters, numbers and symbols is a great start. Avoid using common words or easy to guess information such as a pet's name or your birthday. Never share your password with anyone and watch out for anyone attempting to obtain your password through an email or over the phone.

Safe Wireless Computing

Before using Wi-Fi in a public place such as a café or in a hotel, be sure to confirm the name of the network first with staff to ensure that the hot spot is genuine. Avoid doing any shopping, banking or any other sensitive activities while connected. Also, create a password for your personal computer to prevent anyone from accessing your information remotely. If available, use your own mobile network connection or wireless hotspot, which is typically more secure than public Wi-Fi.

Protect Your Mobile Devices

Your mobile devices are considered computers and need protection as well. Be sure to secure your phone with a passcode as they tend to contain a lot of personal information about yourself and others. When downloading an app, also make sure you review the privacy policy and understand what data the app has access to such as location, access to social media and your contacts.

Geotagging and Location Sharing

Be wary of geotagging and inadvertently sharing your location through your pictures especially while away from home or on vacation. You could be leaving yourself and your home vulnerable to suspecting burglars. Be sure to disable the function on your smartphones and change the permissions for social media apps. When sharing pictures, convert them to .PNG file format and publish them from your desktop or laptop instead.

What Are Some of the Most Common Internet Scams?

Phishing Attacks

  • What it is: Using an email or malicious website to collect your personal information or to infect your device with viruses.
  • What to watch out for: Cybercriminals may use a legitimate looking site to lure victims to click on a link or email attachment.  A pad lock in the browser window or an "Https" that precedes a URL indicates a secure site.
  • How to avoid it: Type new website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links.

Imposter/"You've Won" Scams

  • What it is: A phone call or email from a seemingly reliable person requesting that you send money for a family member, friend or government agency. They can also request payment for taxes on a prize or trip that you've won.
  • What to watch out for: Be wary of an email that looks or sounds suspicious, even if it is from a source you’re familiar with.
  • How to avoid it: Any request that urges you to act immediately or an offer that sounds too good to be true could be the signs of a scam.

Identity Theft

  • What it is: The illegal use of someone's personal information to obtain money or credit.
  • What to watch out for: You may have unknown charges on your bank account, see some unusual activity on a credit card or unauthorized applications on your credit report.
  • How to avoid it: Never reveal any personally identifiable information such as your social security number or bank account number to unknown sources.

Click here to find out how you can recover from identity fraud.

Using Zoom - Security & Safety

As a result of the pandemic, most of our interactions now occur virtually, and for Hostos students, faculty and staff, the majority of academic and non-academic “meetings” occur via Zoom.

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind certain settings and considerations for your Zoom meetings to avoid any undesirable participants or their actions that could not only be disruptive, but also have other negative impacts on your other attendees.

Always do the following for your Zoom meetings:

  1. Use the “Waiting Room” and/or “Registration” feature to ensure only Approved participants can join your meetings
  2. Require a passcode for your meetings
  3. DO NOT publish your meeting link with passcode to public websites/social media accounts
  4. Do “Generate a random unique meeting ID” for each of your scheduled meetings, especially those which are non-recurring/not with the same participants (do not use your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) for all your meetings) – this prevents someone who should not be in a particular meeting from joining that meeting
  5. Consider using “authenticated users only” especially if you know your attendees/participants should only be Hostos participants who would have to login with their email/password to join your meeting

Keep the following in mind:

  1. In Zoom “Meetings”, all participants can potentially display their video and audio; there is no way to “mute all” or “stop video” for all participants
  2. If you want to ensure no participants can “share” their screen, etc. then make sure to restrict “Who Can Share?” to the Host only (Note: this doesn’t prevent them from doing something in their own video, it only prevents them from sharing with all the other participants in the main meeting window)
  3. If you are planning to have an online Broadcast event (e.g. town hall, guest speaker series, etc.), you should use the Webinar feature instead of a Meeting. The Webinar automatically blocks video/audio for any attendee who is not a pre-approved Panelist/speaker. If you need access to this feature for an event, please contact the IT Department at at least 2 weeks prior to your planned event and do not send any Zoom meeting links until your access has been confirmed.

What to do if you have an undesirable participant or content?

  1. Take a screenshot of the behavior/participant name and send it to and, if offensive/dangerous, include
  2. You can “Dismiss” (REMOVE) that participant from the meeting, or SUSPEND PARTICIPANT ACTIVITIES – these can all be accomplished by right-clicking on the attendees name/video
    1. You can also put a participant “On Hold” essentially suspending their audio/video – but this is only available if you do NOT have the Waiting Room enabled
  3. If the link was publicly shared, and the undesired participants try to connect with alternate ID’s, you may need to END (stop) the meeting, create a new meeting link and share with the desired attendees

The IT Department offers workshops on how to effectively and securely use Zoom. You can also view some of the Zoom “How To’s” via their website here:

Managing participants in a meeting – Zoom Help Center
In-meeting security options – Zoom Help Center
Getting Started – Zoom Help Center
Meeting and Webinar Best Practices and Resources – Zoom Help Center

Useful Links