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will involve computer programming but only 2% of current K-12 students are studying it. Tout sees a perfect storm brewing in that disconnect. “Te

alarming statistic is that by 2020, we will have one million unfilled jobs,” he says. “Imagine the facets of the technology we depend on that will be poorly handled. Te failure of that technology would have potentially disastrous consequences.” Equally daunting, and equally part of the problem, is the

prospect of a general public that shows few signs of becoming more technologically savvy. While it will be up to the educated experts to defend corporate websites and perhaps food supplies, individuals also need to learn how to defend themselves. Tout’s concerns about these issues persuaded him that

“maybe one of the forums to address this would be a TED talk. Maybe we can make even a small dent and someone can carry that message and make a larger dent. I’m willing to contribute as much as I can to closing that gap and maybe this is a good start.”


oth Tout and the Eastern community are doing more than talking; they’re making dents of various sizes with a wide range of programs tailored to faculty, staff and current and future students.

One example is the Cyber Security Awareness Commitee (CyberSAC), which Tout helped found and which brings together representatives from the College of Technology, Faculty Development Center, University Communications and the Division of Information Technology, to work on increasing the awareness of cyber security at Eastern and integrating security best practices into its culture. Perhaps its most conspicuous effort to date has been to

send, under a contract between the Division of Information Technology and PhishMe (a company that helps organizations improve their employees’ online security awareness), a phony phishing email every month to up to a thousand Eastern staff members with university accounts. Almost everyone has seen a phish, an official-looking message purporting to be from an institution the recipient does business with that says he or she must divulge private information like passwords or account numbers in order to avoid some negative consequence. Most of them are relatively crude and easy to spot but,

like their malware brethren, they get more sophisticated all the time. Steve Edwards and Rocky Jenkins, members of the CyberSAC team that runs the program, incorporated this into their strategy. “Te first two scenarios that we sent out were run-of-the-

mill, saying your account is over its storage limit, and we need your password,” says Edwards, senior information security analyst in the Division of Information Technology. “I’d like to think that they looked reasonably ‘legitimate,’ but people are used to the ones threatening their email account. We got about 4% of the people to fall for each one. In September, the third month, we sent a much more targeted email, still not incredibly specific but using some institutional knowledge that’s publicly available.” Inspired by an actual case at the University of Michigan,

the message told recipients that Eastern was updating its direct deposit system and they would have to provide their routing and account numbers or else pick up a paper check each pay period. Bingo! “Tat was enough to take us from 4% to 19%,” says

Edwards. “Because it was different than what people expected a phish to look like, it had more results.” Te results they really seek are educational, however. Anyone who “bites” by clicking on the proffered link gets a

20 Eastern | FALL 2013

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