Raising the Importance of Cyber Security After Awareness Month


By Christine Viray, Staff Writer

While I knew about the subject of cyber security and its importance in our world today in basic terms, I’ve only recently learned that October was National Cyber Security Awareness month.  And even though October has already come and gone, technological advancements are still prevalent with the introduction of the Microsoft Surface laptop on June 15 and the iPhone X on Nov. 3, so I still think that it’s important to acknowledge the subject of cyber security because it protects us on the internet and in the real world.

But becoming aware is only one step toward fully understanding the importance of cyber security. The internet itself reflects the real world in a way. Internet users can have good or bad intentions, or maybe even both.  Unfortunately, this diversity allows people to entice unsuspecting users through various forms of lures and traps, which can include scamming, catfishing, and phishing.

The situation worsens when simple threats can reach out from the internet and physically change a victim’s life, or when a person can become a victim because they failed to understand that their posts on the internet will stay there forever.  Even though these situations continue to happen, I hope that all Mason students get a general understanding about internet safety to prevent these instances from occurring.  Developing a basic understanding of internet safety and cyber security will save a lot of time in the future by educating users about using the internet more efficiently and decreasing users’ anxiety about online potential dangers.

To get more insight about cyber security and how Mason students could possibly perceive it, I interviewed Hamid Sadr, a Mason sophomore majoring in Information Technology (IT), Namrha Aslam Chohan, a Mason freshman majoring in Cyber Security Engineering, and Jacob Selick-Bottos, a Mason freshman majoring in Computer Engineering.  After interviewing them, I learned some aspects about cybersecurity that I didn’t know before and I learned how some Mason students perceive cybersecurity.

“As [its] name implies, cyber security is essentially protection of technological information on all scales. This information, known as data in most places, has become a staple part of life in the modern era, and is practically impossible to go anywhere or do anything without having encountered or used data in some way, shape, or form,” says Sadr.

He goes on to say that, “[these factors] are why cyber security is necessary.  Not only is it a matter of national security, but people’s daily lives would be completely flipped upside down if what they wouldn’t want to be shared or known to the general public is somehow put out there.”

“Cyber security is the act of protecting patents against cyber crimes such as viruses, hacks, and identity thefts.  We should care about it because as a nation we should try our level best to protect ourselves from online thieves trying to steal confidential information that can harm the security of us citizens,” says Namrha.

“I don’t know much about how the security works, but I do know that it’s very important.  Databases like the school’s hold a lot of valuable personal information that scammers and hackers could use to commit fraud,” says Jacob.

Even though Sadr, Namrha, and Jacob don’t represent Mason students as a whole, their responses prove that there are Mason students out there who are well aware of cyber security and the potential risks of lacking cyber security. It’s important for every student to get a basic understanding of cyber security because we live in a technologically advanced world with people that have different intentions.

Most classes at George Mason use the internet for research, even classes you would not normally think of when someone talks about a computer-based class, such as English and History.  If you use Blackboard or Mason-related apps on your phone, you are still be using the internet, so you should still to stay alert.  

Blurb for Sidebar:

“Cyber Security Awareness Month has been observed every October since its inception in 2004. It is designed to raise public awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and its impact on our daily lives. Through events, contests, and speakers on campus, we attempt to engage and educate students, faculty, and staff on how they can stay save online and provide them with tools and techniques to do so, all while increasing our resiliency to cyber attacks.

The IT Security Office here at George Mason University is responsible for implementing policies and procedures for the university in order to prevent, detect, and respond to threats to digital information owned by the university.

For those who are interested in learning more about information security or gaining experience are encouraged to apply to the office’s internship which will be posted within the next month on Hire Mason.”

Correction: The article (page 10, Nov. 6) incorrectly credited Michael Abler, Staff Writer, instead of the correct credit to Christine Viray, Staff Writer.