Information Security Digest VOL. 6 - October 2020

October 22, 2020
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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Cyber security is always important, but NCSAM is a great reminder to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect yourself, your family, and your devices from cyber attacks and threats.  

To help you keep security top of mind this NCSAM, we've highlighted some important security tips below. You can find more resources on the NCSAM website, and learn some security best practices in our Digital Scavenger Hunt- more details below. 


I wish you a happy and safe National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Christian Hamer

Chief Information Security Officer, Harvard University


Click Wisely

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of our anxieties around the pandemic with an increase in online scams. Before you click links in suspicious emails, try to verify if a message is legitimate. Common scams or phishing messages include:

  • Vacation/Dependent Care policy updates. Go to for official updates.
  • Delayed shipping of a recent order. Go directly to the site where you ordered the item.
  • Disaster Relief Donations. Donate only via the official website of your preferred charity.
  • Mail-in/absentee voting information. Go to the website for your town or city (.gov or .org)

If you receive a suspicious message, protect yourself and others by forwarding it to

Know Your Data

When you're sharing files on the Cloud, it's important to make sure you know who is able to access the data you're sharing:

  • OneDrive, SharePoint, and Google Drive: You can specify exactly who can access files or folders with an individual's email address. You can also limit access to view only and disable file downloads.
  • Zoom recordings: Limit who can access recordings to authenticated users with a passcode that you've provided them. When you're done sharing, toggle the sharing option off. Find Instructions here.

Use Strong Passwords

When you're teaching, learning, or working from home, it's important to protect your data--and the University's--by securing your home Wi-Fi network. If you're using the router provided by your internet service provider, changing the preset password makes it much harder for hackers to access your network. Find more tips on securing your home network at the NCSAM Website.

Apply Updates

Setting your mobile device to update apps automatically ensures you'll always get important new security features as soon as they're released. But it's also a good idea to delete any apps you no longer use to limit who can access your data. Consider deleting apps you downloaded for a specific purpose that you no longer need, like an app you used to plan a previous vacation. Learn more about protecting your mobile devices.

Zoom Backgrounds and Digital Posters

Share security tips with your teams by using one of our virtual backgrounds in your Zoom meeting, or use our digital posters in your presentations or webinars! 

Digital Scavenger Hunt

To celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we've teamed up with the Harvard Archives to bring you some useful cyber security tips alongside some interesting history from the University. Solve a series of puzzles and discover the hidden webpage that will give you an exclusive digital reward. The clues weave together cyber security best practices and Harvard’s history, using the Digital Collections. This is a fun activity for you to do on your own or as a group activity with your team. Get started here.