Information Security Digest VOL. 4, April 2020

April 23, 2020
Information Security Digest VOL. 4, April 2020

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

It is impressive how quickly the community has adapted to remote working, teaching, learning, and research, especially amid such difficult circumstances. For many people, this is your first time working from home, which means navigating new ways of working, unfamiliar tools, and unique information security challenges.

This newsletter provides tips for working securely while remote, including how to avoid Coronavirus-specific scams. You can find more tips in the Work Securely Everywhere guide. And we’ve provided some virtual backgrounds for Zoom so you can keep security top of mind in your remote meetings.

Remember, even though you’re working remotely, you’re not alone. If you have questions or concerns about security, contact or your school’s local IT service desk.

Thank you for helping to keep Harvard safe and secure. Take care,

Christian Hamer

Chief Information Security Officer, Harvard University

Click Wisely


click wisely icon

Cyber criminals use moments of uncertainty to trick us into clicking unsafe links or files. Unsurprisingly, they’re exploiting our concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic to steal sensitive information and even solicit donations to phony charities. Follow these tips to avoid the most common Coronavirus scams:

  • Never click links or download files in suspicious emails. Be wary of sensational headlines or links to Coronavirus updates from unknown sources. If you’re unsure about a suspicious message claiming to come from Harvard, check the official Harvard Coronavirus website to view the latest community notifications.
  • Beware of unexpected two-step verification prompts. If you receive a prompt or phone call asking you to verify your Harvard login, but you don’t remember doing anything to trigger this, it may be an indication of a compromised account. Report the incident immediately.
  • Verify charities before donating. Unfortunately, cyber criminals take advantage of our generosity during times of crisis. If you wish to donate to help those in need, make sure your donation gets to the right place by confirming a charity’s legitimacy at

Learn more about Coronavirus scams.

Collaborating and Meeting Securely

    Collaborating with colleagues remotely has never been easier, but it’s important to make sure you’re keeping your files and meetings secure, especially if you’re using a tool or service for the first time.

    • Share files securely. There are many different tools for collaborating or sharing files online, but not all should be used for sharing confidential University data. Review the Collaboration Tools Matrix to find which tool to use for everyday collaboration with your colleagues, and which to use for sharing sensitive information.
    • Keep control of your meetings. While deliberate disruption of private Zoom meetings (or “Zoombombing”) is rare, the new Zoom “Security” button on the host’s toolbar provides easy access to quick security controls. Learn more about this feature and find more quick tips to manage meeting participants.
    • Keep your meetings private. For an additional layer of security, read the full guide to increasing privacy of your Zoom meetings. To learn more about how Harvard has worked with Zoom to ensure our community’s privacy is protected, read the frequently asked questions.


    Zoom Backgrounds

    You can keep security in mind by using these Information Security Zoom backgrounds, designed to celebrate Earth Day. Send screen shots of you using these and we’ll feature you on our website or in the next newsletter! See them all here.

    Choose from these and many more.