University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.
COVID-19 Cyber Threats
Since there is a huge focus on the spreading pandemic and attackers taking advantage of this to lure victims into opening attachments on malicious emails and click on phishing links. This is a very widespread attack and not directly coming from one source, rather many sources. The following are confirmed malicious emails using subjects containing COVID-19 or related keywords carrying RATs such as Netwire, NanoCore and LokiBot. Subject examples:
The file attachments
The targets of these attacks (this could be anyone) are mostly directed towards government healthcare organizations, medical research universities, industrial manufacturing firms, and research institutes. Subject examples:
I feel like these attacks could be very detrimental, especially if your team has the bad habit of not paying attention to what they open. You should always be aware of the risks involved with opening emails and the repercussions that can be catastrophic. As long as these are hammered in then your team should have a good understanding of malicious emails and what to look out for.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has pressed charges on two hackers with coordinating a mass scale defacement campaign against US websites for the killing of Iranian military general Qasem Soleimani.
An indictment released states that the two hackers were identified. The first hacker is Behzad Mohammadzadeh (alias Mrb3hz4d), 19, from Iran. The second hacker is Marwan Abusrour (alias Mrwn007), 25, from Palestine.
Mrb3hz4d is to be believed as the head of the attacks, was also accused of breaking into at least 51 US websites, and posting images of the late Soleimani with Anti-America statements such as "Down with America."
These defacements primarily hit US-hosted domains. This all began on January 3, the day after US officials announced the killing of general Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport using a drone strike.
The indictment accuses Mrb3hz4d of defacing 51 websites. In which US officials say that a profile on Zone-H (a website where hackers often brag about their defacements) has a huge list of more than 1,100 websites defaced by Mrb3hz4d and with 400 of these sites showing pro-Soleimani messages.
Yet Mrwn007 was charged with a minor role. Prosecutors said he provided Mrb3hz4d with access to seven websites that were later defaced.
Additionally, US officials said that Mrwn007 does have a history in defacing websites, with a list of more than 337 websites defaced with pro-Palestinian messages traced all the way back to 2016.
The attacks carried out by the two hackers did get some media coverage earlier this year. One of the high-profile websites hacked was the portal for the US Federal Depository Library Program, which was almost immediately taken down and restored after the attack.
People believed this was the start of a cyberwar between the US and Iran but obviously it never sparked off a massive cyberwar. Whether both hackers were assisted by the Iranian government is up in the air.
Granted the attacks are considered low tier attacks they are illegal and both hackers are charged and can receive up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000. They are both at large.
Kyle provided a cautionary tale on some of the dangers that are currently faced by businesses globally. He was tasked with providing a war game scenario that could realistically occur against a medium sized business.
The tools necessary to commit fraud, steal credit cards, duplicate identification badges, or even to clone automobile keys remotely are being sold right now on popular shopping sites. Criminals are buying the tools necessary to steal credit cards used at gas pumps and deploying those tools on a daily basis. We live in a dangerous world and it is only becoming increasingly so as criminals are now capable of purchasing cyber weapons and the entry barrier is shrinking every day for online criminals.
UAT is training the cyber guardians of tomorrow with the tools and technology they need to become effective protectors of our nation. Our classes are taught using real life examples, and our students are provided the means to understand how cyber security works in the real world.
I ask that you take the time to read the following, knowing it was inspired by real global events, and while the situations, names, and persons are fictitious, you will find the recommendations to be steeped in cold hard facts...
A new young business, CheapBuys, has started to boom. The company makes its money from selling an assortment of different devices such as USBs, cell phones, headphones, numerous IoT devices and more. They sell their product for a small profit, but the company's wide customer base from selling multiple products keeps customers happy and has them coming back to save some money. The company has a great foundation for a successful business with a nice hierarchal employee system in place, a large 10 story building for employees and a warehouse to store the product. The building has a decent security system in place with the need to provide a company ID card to swipe when entering the building, and each workstation also needs authentication with the employee ID cards. Employees are well taken care of with competitive pay rates and are frequently given the chance to earn a raise every 4-6 months. The market is starting to get taken over by CheapBuys, because of their cheap products and wide customer base beating out competing companies.
The biggest problem the company has is how the employees act outside of work. This is not something that can be controlled, but when company property, such as the ID cards, are being handled outside of work, there needs to be rules and guidelines. One night, an employee ended up at a bar after work. He had a few drinks and it was becoming apparent he was not sober. When he pulled out his wallet to pay for his drinks, someone sitting at the bar spotted the ID card and instantly knew where he worked at. This stranger knows of the company and how it is becoming a big success and sees an opportunity to dig his hand in the pot. The stranger is someone who knows quite a bit about security access cards and how to copy them. For instances like such, he likes to keep his RFID copier on him so he can make the decision quick and easy. The employee has had quite a bit to drink and the stranger knows this, so it will make his impromptu plan go smoothly. The stranger starts by having a conversation with the employee to start building a little trust. After a little while, the stranger has fed him more drinks and the stranger can see his plan coming to fruition.
After a bit, the employee starts to place his wallet on the bar in front of him making it easier to carry out the sabotage. The stranger decides to get closer to the employee and distract him by ordering more drinks and throwing his arm around the employee. While pointing the other way at the bartender, he offers to pay for the drinks and throws his other hand over the wallet on the bar and sneaks it into his pocket. He tells the employee to keep an eye out for something tuning in on the TV over the bar and goes to the bathroom. After making it to a stall, the stranger now has all he needs. He pulls out the ID card and scans it with a scanner he purchased on a popular online marketplace website, then takes some quick pictures of the card to fully duplicate one later. He goes back to the bar and sneaks the wallet back onto the bar without the employee noticing. After that drink, the stranger starts to make a better bond with the employee telling him they should meet up at the bar again and ask him what times he works and when his days off are. The employee, not thinking about much at this point, agrees and lets the stranger know; now the stranger has everything he needs to pull off an attack on the business. The night ends and they go home, where the stranger quickly starts to duplicate the employee's ID card. The stranger does a little research and creates a USB stick with malware to take advantage of privilege escalation on one of the software suites the company uses. He will create a connection with a remote server to start offloading data from the company servers.
Within a couple days, the stranger is ready to pull off his plan. He gets into the building with ease, swiping the ID card which was not hard to duplicate. With no security guards, he has nothing to worry about with being spotted getting into the building. His only task is to find an unoccupied workstation, which isn’t difficult, in their 10-story building. After getting to a workstation that is relatively secluded, he swipes the ID to login, plugs in the USB, and his program starts to run automatically. The malware is triggered, vulnerabilities are exploited, and he creates the connection to the remote server he had previously prepared. The workstation is left logged on, the stranger un-plugs the USB and walks out of the building. His plan went perfectly. He goes straight to his server to see all the data he has obtained. The data he ended up collecting includes all sorts of employee information, birthdates, full names, and social security numbers as well as some customer information such as name and credit card numbers. The man anonymously contacts the company and notifies them he has a lot of valuable information and gives them a sample of what he possesses to prove his threats are genuine. He wants a million dollars in bitcoin by the end of the week or he will start to release the information in batches of 50 people to the public every day. With no other option, CheapBuys agrees to pay the stranger and the stranger agrees to not release the data. He decides to sell the data on the black-market later for an additional profit.
This story shows some of the flaws that can be exploited by one person and cause tremendous damage to a company. To start with securing the company, physical security needs to be increased. Security guards could be hired to keep an eye on the entrances to the building, this way employees will have to check in or simply be verified by a person observing those coming in. Next, workstations should have an implementation of two factor security, by providing a second password after swiping the ID card. This will help prevent attacks like the one that was previously explained. Third, a group policy should be given to all employees to prevent use of USB devices on a company workstation. Only authenticated USB’s can be allowed for company use but will not be allowed to leave the premises of the building. Finally, an Intrusion Detection System should be implemented to detect any suspicious activity on the network. These implementations would just be a start in further security aspects of the company and would have prevented the attack coming to fruition.
Designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Systems Security Education by the US National Security Agency, our ethical hacking degree is highly recognized by industry and government entities alike. Graduates from the cyber security degree program will have developed the essential knowledge and tools to automate their own security processes through extensive training in network security programs and scripts. Students will be taught to use critical thinking skills to research current and evolving cyber security trends, as well as become experts in network security industry standards and regulations.
Find out more at https://www.uat.edu/network-security-degree.
Danny Bradbury. (April 23, 2019). “Killer USB Breach Highlights Need For Physical Security”. Retrieved from: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/infosec/usb-breach-physical-security-1-1-1/
Bernhard Mehl. (May 23, 2018). “Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Copy or Clone Access Cards and Key Fobs”. Retrieved from: https://www.getkisi.com/blog/how-to-copy-access-cards-and-keyfobs
Brien Posey. (June 27, 2017). “How To Prevent the Use of USB Media in Windows 10”. Retrieved from: https://redmondmag.com/articles/2017/06/27/prevent-the-use-of-usb-media-in-windows-10.aspx
As a whole, I don’t think mental health is talked about enough.
There’s a lot going on in not only our lives, but in the world. Sometimes it is just too much. Sometimes thinking positively is too big of a task... or so it feels. In my personal experience, this feels true because we often aren’t encouraged enough to feel what we’re feeling and learn how to accept what we are feeling. Below I’m going to share with you some tricks and tips that have helped me not only navigate my thoughts away from the dark—but navigate my life away from the dark.
Erin testing the mocap equipment on campus.
⇒ Self-Help and Anxiety Management (SAM)
⇒ What’s Up
⇒ Quit That!
Each one of us is different, so not all of these are going to work for everyone, but I hope they help guide you. A tip that I’ve learned is to find ways to use other’s advice and put your own twist on it; tailor it to yourlife. When you are struggling mentally, know that these changes don’t happen overnight. Going back to cutting yourself some slack, know that this is a process, a long-term change. Some days will be easier than others. Acknowledging you want to manage your mental health is, in my opinion, the biggest step of all.
UAT is such a special place, because we are all rooting for you. We truly want you to succeed and are here to help in whatever way you may need. Sometimes the world feels like a very lonely place, but know you are never alone at UAT. Our door is always open for you.
Crisis Text Line
Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (local office)
Community Bridges, Inc. - East Valley Addiction Recovery Center and Outpatient
24-hour help: 866-481-5361
East Valley Substance Abuse Center
TERROS Behavioral Health Services
Salt River Intergroup
EMPACT (suicide prevention center)
Saint Luke's Behavioral Health Center
Telephone: 602-251-8535 or 800-821-4193 (if calling from out of Arizona)
Network Security and Automation the next big thing!
One of the next big steps in cyber security is automation. With attacks becoming more and more automated trying to manually defend against them is a losing battle. Utilizing automation as a way to become more efficient and as a way to save on manpower.
Correlating data is one of the many things we could find use in automating. Vendors collect a ginormous amounts of threat data, but what value does it hold if the threat data is not organized? How long would it take to go through millions of reports manually? The answer is that the data is useless unless it is organized and that when automated this task only takes a couple of clicks!
You can also generate protections faster than attacks can spread. The fastest way to respond to an attack currently is to have everything automated. Once a threat is identified, protections need to be created and distributed faster than an attack can spread throughout the organization’s networks, endpoints, or cloud. Because of the time penalty that analysis adds, the best place to stop the newly discovered attack is not at the location where it was discovered but at the attack’s predicted next step. Manually creating a full set of protections for the different security technologies and enforcement points capable of countering future behaviors is a lengthy process that not only moves slowly but also is extremely difficult when correlating different security vendors in your environment and not having the right control and resources. Automation can expedite the process of creating protections without straining resources, all while keeping pace with the attack.
For information on cyber security degrees at UAT visit https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees
In my first few weeks as a student ambassador I have learned so much about the school and its foundation that otherwise I would have never learned. For example I learned about how UAT started as a Computer-aided design or CAD institute in 1983.
For those of you who don’t know what CAD is allow me to explain a little, CAD is a computer technology that designs a product and documents the design's process CAD may facilitate the manufacturing process by transferring detailed diagrams of a product's materials, processes, tolerances and dimensions with specific conventions for the product in question. In other words it is a tool used by drafters, designers, architects and engineers. My point being UAT has been shaping great minds since day one, and it really shows when you look back at where the university started versus where it is now.
In my first few weeks as student ambassador I have also met so many nice people who work behind the scenes of UAT, from my awesome coworkers to all the friendly faces in the portal. I have truly felt welcomed into the UAT family and I really appreciate that. Even during tour training with Robert Walker, a heavily critiqued series of training sessions that's supposed to prepare student ambassadors for the worst case scenario tour. On paper this sounds really intense and scary but in actuality it was a light hearted and fun experience that involved me getting out of my shell a little bit.
Speaking of tours, I gave my first tour during our UATx this past weekend. UATx is even hosted here at UAT at least once every semester where prospective students or just interested people can come and really see what we are about here at UAT. Each major has activities set up for these people to try their hands in, as well as the opportunity for them to experience true campus life by staying overnight and participating in our clubs. As I had mentioned before this was my first UATx as a Student Ambassador, and I had the opportunity to give my first tours during UATx.
Giving tours was actually a lot of fun, in all honesty I was a little nervous leading into the tour. The nerves however subsided rather quickly after starting the tour, and I started to really just have a lot of fun with it. My favorite part of giving tours is seeing the excited looks on these students' faces. You can really tell what somebody is interested in during these tours when you enter specific rooms or bring up certain topics. For some students this is the New Technologies lab, Engineering lab, our 3D printers, and our CyberWarfare Range! All in all I gave 2 group tours over the course of UATx, and I had a blast doing so. If you haven't had the chance to check out UATx visit our events page to sign up for the next one or schedule a virtual tour via Discord.
Now you might be wondering who Maxwell is. Maxwell is an adorable orange Tabby cat with an attitude. He'll meow at you to get your attention but will trick you by walking away the moment you decide to pet him. He also likes napping near the door on the first floor on the west side of the building, why he does that I don't know, he's somewhat of a daredevil I suppose, but either way if you're exiting the building on the west side first floor do be cautious of not smacking the orange furball.
Now how did Maxwell end up being the campus cat that roams the property of UAT. In a nutshell Maxwell was a stray cat who was a wandering adventurer looking for quests to complete. But one day Maxwell saw a building that caught his eye. That building would be the University of Advancing Technology, the building caught his attention and so he decided to go there. Little did Maxwell know he would retire from his adventures and become the mascot and beloved campus cat of UAT. So in essence Maxwell just randomly showed up out of nowhere and next thing you know the university decided to adopt him and have him become a member of the UAT family. And if by chance if you're wondering Maxwell is up-to-date on his vaccines and is as healthy as an olympian and as strong as a lion.Now what does Maxwell do on a daily basis? Besides taking the occasional nap, he likes to just roam and go after birds. There seems to be some sort of ongoing war between Maxwell as Maxwell initiates hunt mode when he sees a bird, and in return the birds have retaliated by taking his food. Maxwell will also hide in a drainage pipe scheming on how he will get revenge on the birds. Maxwell will also be hiding in the trees, so expect to see Maxwell coming from the trees like he's some sort of squirrel. And during the nights he likes to be on top of cars at the parking lot. So don’t freak out if Maxwell has decided to claim a car as his property, just roll with it. In general Maxwell likes to be in random places so if you want to find Maxwell you'll basically be playing Where's Waldo. Maxwell loves to receive attention but does keep in mind that he also likes his own personal time and space so don’t give him too much attention. During the rainy days Maxwell will be sheltered indoors where he can avoid being soaked by the clouds of Arizona.We here at UAT appreciate Maxwell’s companionship as he provides the morale boost that our students deserve as they continue their own adventure to receive their degrees, prosper in the future, and develop new technology for the future.
You can follow Maxwell on Instagram.
The Summer 2020 Student Innovation Project (SIP) Showcase was held on Tuesday August 18, 2020, via Zoom. Led by Art Direction Professor Dapzury Valenzuela, 33 UAT students presented their SIP's as faculty and staff attended virtually.
“Graduating students in programs that range from Virtual Reality and Network Security to Robotics and Game Design showcased their innovative projects,” said Valenzuela, “and the UAT Student Innovation Project Showcase continued its tradition of pushing the boundaries of technology. I'm so proud of the hard work and perseverance of our students and the creative prototypes that exemplify our mission to innovate. They reached a long-term goal, produced an outcome, and gained skills they can directly apply towards the industry they aspire to work in. As we continue to grow through these unprecedented times, it becomes more apparent that technology will continue to impact our lives and our SIP Showcase is a great platform for UAT students to share their ideas for the future.”
“Projects include a mobile app that allows users to locate roommates safely, a new approach to startup fundraising that fosters empathy, a smart house project, an AI art asset assistant, an AR puzzle mobile game, a game simulator that helps to train managers on human interaction, a game mechanic that promotes teamwork within MMO games, a web browser plug-in that automatically scans for malicious malware, an air quality monitor, and a biometric wheel for safer vehicle usage, as well as a dynamic UI that changes in real-time in accordance to a player’s mental state, just to name a few,” added Professor Valenzuela.
The following are the video presentations from the SIP fair:
Addison Buettner, Game Design
Stefani Johnson, Business Technology/Web Design
Christopher Picozzi, Business Technology
Bailey Nielsen, Business Technology/Web Design
Joey Selamat, Advancing Computer Science
Wyatt Dooley, Advancing Computer Science
Ke’Ondrae Mell, Robotics & Embedded Systems
Sarah Baumann, Game Design
Dylan Chapman, Game Design
Nathan Silva, Game Design
Austin Meadowcroft, Game Design
Jonathan Campbell, Game Art & Animation
Desiree Macias, Game Art & Animation
Frederick Hunt, Game Programming
Angela Robinson, Game Programming
Logan Boenig, Digital Video
Nicholas Bazzoli, Network Security
Bryce Clifford, Network Security
Nicolas Reecer, Network Security
Christopher Froebe & Jacob Silva, Network Security
Tyler Walling, Network Security
Marvin Hugley Jr., Network Security
Shawn Bellmore, Network Security
Emmett Rohrbough, Network Security
Taylor Leavitt, Network Security
Congratulations to all students who presented! All of us at UAT are proud of each of you who demonstrated mastery of your degree through creative and properly executed innovations. And although graduating is already an exciting outcome, the SIP winners are as follows:
Escape Room AR by Kaulana Lee
Smarter Smiths by Christopher Picozzi
Bunkie by Addison Buettner
The Redefined SmartHouse Project by Ke’Ondrae Mell
To all participating SIP students, we are confident that you are well prepared to become leaders and innovators in your fields.
A good portion of Game art students who attend UAT have at least some experience with 3D modeling suites like 3DSMax, Maya, or even Blender, whether they are self taught or have experience from highschool or another college. Thats not to say a new artist will be at a disadvantage if they don't have experience with these programs, that's just the tip of the iceberg and offers a good base to start with, if you want to do any kind of character or organic modeling you really should give a nice little program called Zbrush a try!
If you have ever done any sort of clay sculpting, Zbrush will trigger that portion of your mind. As it is essentially digital clay sculpting. If you haven't had a chance to try clay sculpting, then fear not. One of UAT’s game art faculty, Professor Lynn Understiller run a clay sculpting class every summer, and is a great way for organic anatomy study. But what you learn with clay sculpting can also be used with Zbrush.
This is an example of an anatomy study that I worked on using several techniques I learned from clay sculpting. Zbrush isn't just a tool for digital sculpting. It can also be used to create micro details on a hyper detailed sculpt that can then be projected onto a more optimized model, say a game model.
As show in these screenshots, there is a plethora of micro details like skin pores and cracks that usually would be painstakingly painted on a texture, now can be easily added to a high poly sculpt that would then be projected onto a game optimized model.
These are just a few capabilities an artist has when using Zbrush, there so much more that can be done, from hard surface modeling, PBR texturing, to hair simulation. Zbrush is an amazing addition to a digital artist toolkit. One more thing. Students at UAT get access to Zbrush when attending on campus. Meaning you don't have to buy a license to make use of it while on campus! Thats a great opportunity to get your hands on it and see what you can make with it!
The US Department of Justice has pressed charges against a Russian who traveled to the US with the intent to recruit an employee of a Nevada company to install malware on their employer's network in exchange for about $1,000,000 USD.
It is speculated that this company is actually Tesla. They do have a factory in Sparks, Nevada.
As well Elon Musk did confirm that this was indeed a target against his company.
Egor Kriuchkov, a 27-year-old Russian. Is a member of a large criminal gang who planned to use malware to get access to the company's network. Which thereafter steal data, and then extort the company for a ransom.
In an attempt to make a diversion to cover the theft Kriuchkov made contact with the employee so that his crew will launch DDoS attacks to keep the company's security team distracted to give the employee time to plant the malware.
Kriuchkov and his crew never got to fulfill their goal as the employee decided to report this to the FBI.
The FBI intervened and kept Kriuchkov in their sights during his stay in the US, then eventually arrested the Russian national once they had gathered all the evidence, they needed to prosecute him in court.
Here's how everything went down.
On July 16th Kriuchkov contacted the employee via WhatsApp and tells him he plans to visit the US. They both knew each other since 2016. On the 28th Kriuchkov arrives in the states and travels to San Francisco then Reno.
August 1st - 3rd. Kriuchkov and the employee with friends travel to Lake Tahoe and Emerald Pools, Kriuchkov pays for all expenses. Throughout the day Kriuchkov tells the employee of the plans Initially, Kriuchkov told the employee he'd be paid only $500,000 for installing the malware. After this, the Employee alerted the FBI.
On the 7th of August Kriuchkov attempted to contact the employee again to convince them to partake in the scheme. Even saying if they have another employee in mind to "teach a lesson" which they can make it where that employee made the malware. The employee asks for $1,000,000 USD and $50,000 USD upfront.
Then on the 17th Kriuchkov reported to the employee that his crew had been planning to hit this building and even paid about $250,000 for this custom malware. The next day they had another meeting where Kriuchkov told the employee his crew refused to pay the upfront fee but agreed on the $1,000,000 payment. Which now the employee was told he needs to give any details on the company's network to help the malware. Then the next day on the 19th Kriuchkov said the gang eventually agreed to an upfront payment of 1 bitcoin.
August 21st, Kriuchkov told the employee he is leaving the country again and left instructions on how to contact him again. FBI alarmed made haste to grab him. The next day he was arrested in Los Angeles.
Kriuchkov was charged and could face up to five years in prison for his role in the scheme if found guilty.
UAT loves new, cool tools to assist in high-quality development with greater efficiency. To that end, UAT is now offering a course specifically to learn ELK Stack technology. It is a skill desired in today’s tech workplace—and UAT is able to quickly put together classes like this to stay on top of the latest technology.
What is ELK? It is the acronym for three open source projects: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana.
ELK Stack = Open source + Search and analytics engine + Server side data processing + Data visualization. This is a relatively new set of tools used to quickly be able to search data, and visualize it in real time. Here’s an example.
Using these tools together means you have far more power—and less development time to get there.
Contact your advisor to find out more about this course!
The Data Science degree at UAT provides students with the understanding and skills necessary to discover new ways to use data, analyze big data and IoT, create new data-centric technology and innovate how data is collected and understood. It encompasses the fundamentals of math, programming and statistics, which provides a basis for machine learning, text analysis, natural language processing and deep learning.
UAT’s Data Science degree will help you enhance how data is used and analyze the future of data.
Lucas Rattigan is a new student this semester, and he popped up on our radar after appearing in the news for winning a big FAFSA scholarship! We contacted Lucas to ask him about that experience, as well as how he worked with others to make the decision to attend UAT.
I am very grateful that I received the FAFSA Challenge scholarship, and it was all thanks to my guidance counselor for being very helpful in guiding me through the process and really pushing me to get it down as early as possible. I do also have to give thanks to other school staff who allowed students to use the guidance office computers to sign up for the FAFSA and scholarships.
I chose UAT, to be honest, because of the scholarships offered since I don't have college-level money, and the scholarships made it a lot less of a financial burden. I also chose UAT for the courses offered, and UAT was one of the only colleges I was interested in that took an active approach to talking to me about applying for UAT.
Once classes start, I will be taking Digital Video. I chose this class as just a general setting for me to learn what I really want to do—which is editing visual and audio in videos, and maybe even making new audio when possible.
I will be doing all of this on campus and will be moving from New York to Arizona to live on campus. This is going to be a big change for me since I'm coming from across the country.
I am most excited about being able to live somewhere so far away since I don't travel much.
The advice I would give others in choosing a university would be to consider everything about the university since there are many factors that go into choosing one, but once you decide on one, stick with it.
To be honest there isn't really anyone who was a big influence on my education since I normally shy away from help from others.
The one thing I would like to add Is that I'm excited to move to Arizona and get to meet the people on campus who have been helping me this past half a year while I was doing all of the paperwork that comes with being accepted into a college.
“Franklinville Central School pulled out all of the stops to help its students complete the FAFSA. Toward the end of September, a representative from St. Bonaventure University participated in a financial aid night for seniors and their families. The presentation was sent home to families who cannot attend in person. The school sent other information home, too, including notices about area college fairs and reminders about completing the FAFSA. Computers in the guidance center were available to students and parents to fill out the FAFSA with help from the college counselor and the office secretary. During the pandemic, the college counselor gave her personal cell phone number to every student and parent, and she also reached out to each of them multiple times to make sure they had everything they needed. Lucas, who will receive the FAFSA Challenge scholarship, has moved frequently, all the while living with his grandmother and attending Franklinville Central School. During his junior year, he went to BOCES in Ellicottville for part of the day to take media communication courses, which led to an interest in audio engineering. He took an online class to learn more about the field. He now wants to further his skills and learn more advanced methods in audio engineering, so he will be attending the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona, this fall.”
Getting set for college is often a team effort! From supportive high school counselors and instructors, to the committed admissions and financial aid teams at UAT, there are many people to help you get ready for some of the biggest decisions of your life—your college and career choices.
Fortunately, the support doesn’t stop when you start UAT. As a UAT Student, your Student & Career Services Team becomes a part of this journey with you. According to Ashley Fuentes, Sr. Student Services Coordinator, “We want to celebrate the wins you have in your classes, hear your ideas and most importantly, listen to your thoughts about industry innovation and all that you can and WILL do as a graduate.” She encourages students to stop by and visit regularly to chat about life, school, wins, losses, funny memes, and even how hot it is outside. She adds that “using Student & Career Services as a resource early and often throughout your time in the program can really enhance your UAT experience.”
So, as this new year begins, remember that you are not starting on your own. You have a team of faculty, upper class students and staff who are here to support you and help you succeed your dreams, including a new staff of Program Support Specialists—and least we forget—the amazing café staff there to make sure you get late night pizza.
Welcome to the UAT family.
Meet Professor Heather Peters!
Professor Peters received her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in secondary education mathematics and her master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University. After teaching high school math in a public school for 11 years, she taught English overseas in a remote town in China, before joining the family at University of Advancing Technology as a mathematics professor four years ago.
We asked Professor Peters to share with us what she wished others would have told her before starting her educational journey. From budgeting to mentorship, her advice is full of answers to questions that you simply might not realize you should ask! Read on, and feel free to ask any questions it sparks as the fall semester will be here before you know it!
I wish someone had told me to take a variety of classes in college, even courses outside of my major, because you never know what kinds of passions and interests you will discover. I was so interested in taking exactly what was recommended and feel like I missed out on having experts in any field at my fingertips.
Take classes in any area that may be of interest to you. Even if you don’t need the credit or elective, it may ignite a passion in you that creates a lifelong hobby or even plants a seed for a future additional degree.
Professor Peters at a UAT graduation.
I wish someone had told me about the value of studying abroad and encouraged me to use my time off to experience other cultures. I eventually realized how valuable visiting other cultures was to gaining a broader worldview, but I wish I had also had the opportunity to study overseas at some point.
The world is so much bigger than your town, your city, and your school. Travel to other cultures, befriend foreign exchange students, and/or learn a new language, because you will learn more than you expect and it will broaden your worldview.
I wish someone had taught me about budgeting and saving before I got to college. I was so excited when I was finally making money for myself that I spent what I earned on frivolous things. Debt follows you beyond your short time in college.
Save at least 10% of your income, don’t charge anything to a credit card unless you can pay it back, and don’t fall for those credit card applications because often they target college students.
Professor Peters showing off her hand-made scientific calculator costume.
I wish someone had told me that professors can be great mentors and resources later on in life. They are great resources for helping you find a job and can provide meaningful recommendation letters if you have left a good impression. Also, I always thought they were unapproachable and would think less of me if I had questions, so I wish I had known that my professors were understanding people and invested in the success of their students.
Get to know your professors and if you find one you respect, admire, and/or click with, take multiple classes from them. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. They want you to be successful!
Professor Peters with the gen ed crew at UAT.
I wish someone had suggested I should do more observations and internships in my field. I learned so much more in “on the job” situations, where I could put the theories into practice.
Intern every semester that you can and as early as you can, because not only does it look good on a resume, but it also gives you an opportunity to make sure it is a career field you enjoy before you spend too much money on a degree. If you can’t find an internship, you can always ask to observe someone who is in your field of study.
Professor Peters celebrating Pi Day!
Thank you Professor Peters!
At the end of July, UAT students and alumni wrapped up the summer semester by competing in the Summer 2020 UAT Game Jam. Hosted online from July 17–26, the 9-day jam was designed to be open to all levels, including those who had never even made a game before, with professors available on Discord to mentor and help solve problems. Veteran jammers and experienced developers were also strongly encouraged to partner with and mentor the newbies.
Mentors work with students through Discord channels.
On July 26, participants uploaded their builds to the jam page and then exhibited their games on Zoom, with awards presented immediately after judging. There were 24 registered participants and 9 games submitted. The theme was 2020, with games ranging from witty—like The Karening, a game where players avoid the Karens and the Kevins to complete the objective without getting infected with COVID-19—to just plain fun—like Party Manager 2020, a party simulator to ease worries after the quarantine has been lifted.
UAT professor and Game Jam Judge Tony Hinton commented, “The game students created amazing 2020 games. Not only were the game students inspiring, but their games were so much fun, it made me wish I could be a student again, too.”
Check out all of the games at https://itch.io/jam/uat-summer-game-jam-2020, and see the full list of winners below!
Great work to all that participated, and if you missed out, get ready, the next jam will be the Founder's Day game jam in September.
Check out past Jams!
UAT was named one of 8 Best Online Schools for Bachelor's in Animation Degree Programs in 2020!
For more informationa about UAT gaming degrees, check out the following:
An Interview with Shellye Cayce
For parents, sending your kids off to college can be very difficult, with many matters to discuss and decions to make, ranging from transportation to housing to classroom environments. But one of the biggest questions is very difficult to answer before the college experience actually begins—will the school simply be a good fit?
We asked one of our favorite moms that question, plus a few more, to help parents in this very situation right now hear how she and her family tackled the college decision process.
Meet Shellye Cayce—wife, mom, teacher, and advocate of higher education—and read on about how her family chose to send their daughter from Texas to Tempe to attend UAT!
With our oldest daughter Kami, she and her best friend at the time knew they wanted to room together and that they didn’t want to be too far from home but far enough to feel independent and away from home. So, Kami and her friend would talk about different colleges in Texas and asked their respective parents about visiting the schools they were looking at. With Brook, the discussion was more about finding a college with a good degree program in technology. Brook had a few ideas about which colleges she was interested in, and we attended a couple of college fairs in order to get information about these schools. Brook wanted to attend a college on the East Coast. She was fine being far away from home.
Brook, Kami, Shellye, and Kevan.
What did YOU look for?
We looked for colleges with technology degrees in computer programming and robotics. Brook looked for schools with LBGT groups and clubs offered at each college. As parents, we had to consider out-of-state tuition cost, and we had to look at the location of the colleges because we wanted them to be in safe parts of town.
What were your concerns?
Lol, I don’t think Brook had any concerns except how soon she could get out on her own. For Kevan and I, our concerns were cost, location and Brook’s age. We knew that out-of-state tuition was going to be a factor no matter where she wanted to go. Therefore, we decided that once she found several colleges that she was truly interested in, then we would compare the cost. Kevan and I knew she was looking at colleges on the East Coast in Chicago and New York. We wanted to know exactly where in Chicago and New York the schools were located. I had questions about the crime rate and public transportation. All these concerns for Kevan and I centered on the fact that Brook would barely be 18 when she would leave for college.
How did you know UAT was the right fit?
I knew before Brook did that UAT was the place for her. First, I need to tell you how we heard about UAT. It was May 2014, and our church always has a senior recognition Sunday. The seniors walk down the aisle, and as they are making their way to the stage, the youth pastor introduces them, tells where they are graduating from and what they plan on doing after graduation. This Sunday, one of the seniors is walking down the aisle and I hear the youth pastor say that this individual is planning on attending The University of Advancing Technology in the fall. I wrote the name of the school on an offertory envelope so I could research it when I got home. I can’t remember exactly when, but I looked this school up on the internet and the more I read the more I knew this was the place for Brook. I told Kevan about everything that I had read, and he agreed with me. Now we just had to get Brook to consider looking at this school. We were in that stage where, 'if my parents like it, then I will hate it' with her. Brook had picked three schools that she wanted to apply to and asked us to pay the application fees. I agreed to pay the application fees IF she would also apply to University of Advancing Technology. She grumbled about it but applied so that I would pay the application fees for the other schools. Within a week of sending the applications, Brook heard back from UAT. Another week or so went by and she never heard from the other three schools. Brook asked about attending the Fly in Geek weekend. Absolutely we will attend, and Kevan says I should go with her. I laughed and told him he was going because I am technologically challenged and would not understand anything they might talk about. So, I think it was January 2015 when Kevan and Brook flew out to Tempe to attend the Fly in Geek weekend. Brook called home to tell me what was happening, and I knew the moment she spoke that she would be attending UAT. I just knew when I heard her voice.
Brook with an acceptance gift.
What advice would you give other parents in searching with their children?
I would advise other parents to talk with their child about their child’s interest and what he or she may want in a college. Let the child pick several colleges as well as the parents. Attend college fairs that these schools will be attending so that you can learn more about them and what they have to offer. Go and visit the campuses that y’all are interested in like Kevan and Brook did. By visiting the campuses, you will get a feel for the culture and climate of the college. This will help narrow down your choices.
Anything else to add?
Kevan, Brook and I flew to Tempe in May of 2015 to move Brook into the dorm and get her ready to start the summer semester. We brought what we could, and told Brook we would bring the rest of her things in July when we were driving out to see her. The first week of July 2015, Kevan, Kami and I drove out to Tempe to spend the week with Brook. When we arrived, Brook was eager to show her sister the campus. The moment we walked in we heard people say, “Hey Brook” or ask, “Is that your family Brook?” Brook would then tell us not only the name of the person, but basically their whole life story. We just couldn’t believe this was our daughter. By the end of the first day, I can’t remember which one of us said to Brook, “Brook you found your people!”
I believe it was either that summer semester or the fall semester that Brook told us she had been going to a class and sitting in. Kevan and I said, “Brook you aren’t enrolled in that class; that is not allowed.” She explained that she had asked the professor for permission and that the professor encouraged her to come because participation is better when she is there. Also, in this same semester she lets us know that she has been sitting in on the student government meetings. Kevan and I just couldn’t believe this was the same daughter that in high school preferred to stay home with her books and technology. The next thing Kevan and I knew, Brook was a member of student government, vice president and then president. So, yep, UAT was definitely the right fit for Brook!
Brook in her dorm at UAT.
Thank you Shellye for sharing your experience! If you are a parent that needs more information, please feel free to reach our. Our admissions team is happy to help answer any questions, and you can find many resources online. Check out our Parent Guide for Going Away to College, Campus Life, FAQs, and Parent Testimonials.
And for this fall, we've released our plan for campus safety, with Episode 2020: Return of the Geeks. Read the plans and details at https://learn.uat.edu/episode-2020. Campus is calling!
Parents and students will be spending more time online and connected to other students, educators, and employers in the coming months. This new normal poses special challenges and can feel daunting. However, by being vigilant, paying attention to the details, and communicating with your child about privacy and personal safety, you should find this transition to be pleasant and rewarding.
1. Talk to your children about some of the dangers posed by individuals online who may want to cause them harm. Younger children should be reminded that we do not communicate with strangers or get into cars with people we do not know and so we should understand that just because someone has a social media account or an email address does not necessarily mean they are who you think they are.
2. Do not click on links that are unsolicited. Email and social media based attacks are very popular because they are effective.
3. Use an adblocker on your browser. Adblock Plus and Ublock Origin are two potential candidates that can be used on Firefox or Chrome.
4. Children that do not need all of the features of a full laptop or desktop may be better served by using web applications on a device like a Chromebook. Work with your educational institution to find out if this is a viable alternative.
5. Use the available parental controls for your device. Windows 10, Apple Macintosh, and Android based devices have built in parental controls that can be used to control when the device is used, where individuals can go on the internet, and to audit some of the actions taken by the youngster.
6. Take an interest in your child’s social media. This may mean setting firm rules on who they can communicate or connect with. Make sure you have access to the account used by the child and that you know what email address was used to register the account and the user name used by the student. You may need to be able to provide this information to law enforcement at a later date.
7. Be cautious of individuals posing as officials from law enforcement, the government, or your school. These are common scams. Your local law enforcement is not going to contact you by phone or email about taxes, tickets, or behavior issues related to your children.
8. Verify and then trust. Do not install applications or tools provided by others or offered unsolicited. Use official methods for acquiring software. Warn children about the dangers potentially posed by piracy as threat actors often add dangerous code to cracked or stolen software.
9. Beware of phone scams offering technical support. Microsoft, Apple, and others will never contact you by phone offering support for your system or warnings about vulnerable software. Microsoft does not contact users about virus infections.
10. If you believe someone may be trying to scam you, do not hesitate to contact your local law enforcement and ask to speak to an investigator about your issue. The safety of you and your children both online as well as off is the number one priority of your local law enforcement.
Students must now acclimate to the new normal of online education. This means parents need to understand the challenges and dangers posed by an always connected class room. If parents follow these few simple rules, speak to their children about personal safety and security, and employ the technology available to them, they can have a healthier, safer, and more pleasant semester.
UAT’s cyber security degree programs and cyber security lab are recognized by industry and government entities alike for their ability to help generate the future innovators of the cyber security industry. We focus on creating true leaders who will have mastery in ethical hacking and uphold the highest industry standard of integrity in our quickly evolving world of cyber security tech and online security.
One of the most common questions students have when choosing their field of study is also a very important question—will I be able to find a job when I graduate?
The UAT Student & Career Services Team is committed to helping our students find internships and jobs suited to their skills, maintaining a variety of company and industry relationships, and continuously seeking out new opportunities.
Our team of professionals have been where you are, and they want to help you find the best prospects for your future. "UAT students are provided with opportunities to meet with large organizations, and a great example is Carvana,” said Ashley Fuentes, Sr. Student & Career Services Coordinator. “Having access to employers who explain the roles that they are looking to fill, as well as outline the best ways to be considered for a job, really helps students get their foot in the door."
Meet Neil Shah, Team Lead of Technical Recruiting at Carvana. We asked Neil about Carvana as a company, his connection with UAT, and his opinion about the current job outlook. Read on to find out more about how Carvana doesn't suck, as well as some great advice from Neil.
Simply put, Carvana sells used cars online but we’re much more than that. We are a data-driven tech company that uses the latest technology to enable our customers to purchase vehicles from the comfort of their own home. This allows our customers to choose from 20,000+ vehicles available all around the country and have them delivered directly to their homes or to be picked up from one of our unique car vending machines.
Our mission is to change the used car market. For decades, people have bought cars primarily in one way. You go to a dealership, you spend half to a full day there negotiating back and forth, and you walk away with a car and an uneasy feeling of not knowing whether you got a good deal or not. It sucks. We’re here to make that process not suck. Shop from a larger inventory than any individual dealer can offer from the comfort of your home and only talk to us if you have questions. If you do choose to talk to us, you won’t be sold on features or upgrades. We will answer your questions to enable you to make the best decision. It’s that simple.
I am the Team Lead of Technical Recruiting. In short, my team and I staff all of the technical roles at Carvana. That includes everything from IT, Security, and Engineering to Data Science, Analytics, and Product Management. Some of these teams are the fastest growing back-office teams in the company. Our job is to find the most qualified candidates, get them excited about the opportunities here at Carvana, and work with them and the hiring managers to facilitate the interview process and make sure the opportunity is the right fit on both sides.
I’ve worked with UAT for several years as a recruiter and partner. I actually placed a few folks at UAT including a couple of your former professors. Since moving to Carvana a couple of years ago, we’ve partnered to recruit students from the UAT programs for positions at Carvana. Our most recent hire was a grad from UAT’s network security program that interned with us in the summer of 2019 and converted to full time after he graduated.
As mentioned, UAT students are most likely to be brought in as an intern in our IT and Security departments. We look for students who have not only excelled in the program but who also have a strong passion and drive to learn about technologies.
I think the value list on UAT’s website and Carvana’s values align very well overall. Both speak to pride in what you do and a sense of ownership that allows UAT’s students and Carvana’s employees to succeed and grow. What set both organizations apart from others is that there is a focus not just on technical skills, but also a passion for helping others and doing so in a collaborative way. It’s cheesy and cliche for a reason as there is truth in the value of collaboration and what we get from listening to each other’s opinions. The diversity created by looking at all these different viewpoints each of us brings is what truly makes the team at Carvana special.
We’re looking forward to partnering with UAT in a few ways. As we make decisions on our 2021 summer internship, we will be looking for students in IT and in Security that could be a great starting point for any students looking to build their experience. Carvana also has plans for growing our Security Operations team in the next year or so and that would be an amazing opportunity for those interested in a career path in the security field. We are a fast-growing company and these would both be great ways that you can get your foot in the door to start down an aggressive career path.
Our hiring has definitely changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At first, we went on a hiring pause and have more recently have been involved in targeted hiring. We are much more strategic in our hiring and trying to plan more long-term to ensure that we are hiring the right roles and levels. We will continue to hire to support our growth as we’ve been able to weather the storm well and continue to grow as an organization.
I think the best advice I can give students overall is to network and take your connections seriously. Your network has more value than you will likely realize for some time. It’s important to check job boards and apply to openings but it’s equally, if not more important, to connect with people using the tools available. There are virtual events in addition to the career fairs and events that UAT will organize for its students. They really should get involved in those things to try to make that personal connection that will make all the difference.
I think that UAT has some excellent programs in training students. What they need to remember is that learning doesn’t just happen in school. If you are a student that is looking to set themselves up for the best possible job coming out of college, you need to get involved in the things outside of your college. That can be meetups, volunteering, internships, or a side hustle using your skills to consult with companies. There are a ton of opportunities for all of these things out there, but you need to be tenacious in finding these things. Coming out of school your resume will look like all of your peers who were in the same courses. The question you need to ask is, what sets your resume and experience apart from your peers? The resumes we see with extracurricular activities and some sort of project or work experience outside of school are the ones that we are more likely to call.
Wise words, Neil. Thank you!
Remember we are here for you, but the initiative—that comes from YOU. To find a job, you must be able to promote yourself and your skills, and get that info out there to the right people. Your Student & Career Services Team wants to be a part of this journey with you! Visit them for resources early and often throughout your time at the UAT for help, from interview tips to resume guidance, or even when you don’t need anything at all! “Feel free to reach out to us even if just to tell us everything is fine,” said Antonio Salazar, Student Services Coordinator. “We are here to celebrate your wins and support you in any way that works best, as we want to see you succeed."
UAT’s academic majors focus on expanding, new and rising technology such as the Advancing Computer Science degree, Cyber Security degree, Digital Maker and Fabrication degree and Robotics and Embedded Systems degree. This technology College has the status of being among a select few 100 percent STEM-based universities in the nation. For more information visit www.uat.edu.
AZ StRUT and UAT Students Rebuilt Computers for Schools Throughout Three-Day Competition
Right now, K-12 schools need computers more than ever to help students starting back to school via online education.
That's why UAT students and our tech start-up space Perimeter83 joined forces to assist Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology (AZ StRUT) refurbish donated desktop computers. Called the 'Refurbathon,' students came together in a competition to rebuild as many machines as possible over the weekend for students in need.
UAT students worked on 121 desktop computers!
According to Jacy Smith, Business Development Specialist for Perimeter83, requests to AZ StRUT for computers for low income students have dramatically increased because of virtual learning requirements, but unfortunately, locations and volunteers are not readily available to work on the computers and get them ready for use.
Smith was excited for the opportunity for UAT students to participate in such an important event. “In addition to learning about hardware and computer components, they are contributing to keeping electronic waste out of landfills and into the hands of people who need it the most,” she said.
Vertis Wilder attended every day of the competition.
The students did not disappoint, refurbishing a total of 121 computers over one weekend! For each machine, the students had to check them out thoroughly, including reinstalling missing parts like hard drives, loading Mint operating systems, and filling out a tag for each computer they worked on. AZ StRUT provided all the machines, spare parts and training materials for the students, and ALL that were salvageable were completed by the 10 participating students. In fact, they ran out of computers on the final day!
Prizes of Amazon gift cards were awarded to first, second and third place finishers. The competition winner was Katherine Lennon, who fully refurbished 28 computers, and enjoyed the training and work with other students. “If you were lost or confused on what to do, a new perspective may be just the thing you needed, and if you asked around, people helped,” said Lennon. In close second was John McIntosh with 27, and third place went to Marc Benson with 25, who also acted as a mentor to the students who had questions about complicated issues. Every one of the newly refurbished computers and laptops will be given to local Title 1 schools by AZ StRUT.
Winners collect their Amazon gift cards.
Maryanna Milton, Distribution Manager for AZ StRUT, highlighted the importance of this work. “You can change someone's life in fifteen minutes,” she said. “It’s that easy to learn to refurbish a computer for AZ StRUT to give to Title 1 students, families, and others who need to access online learning, healthcare and other critical resources. Our needs have never been greater!”
AZ StRUT takes donations year round. They are tax deductible and can be dropped off at Valley Batteries Plus Bulbs stores, or at AZ StRUT Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (1720 W Broadway Road, Mesa). Schools in need can request computers at https://azstrut.org/request-equipment/.
For students who want to learn more about computers, UAT is enrolling for the fall semester now. From Advancing Computer Science to Network Engineering to Artificial Intelligence, UAT has degrees for almost every tech-driven interest. And through partnerships like AZ StRUT, we can further our mission to educate students in advancing technology who innovate for our future.
Check out the coverage on 12 News!
Carlos from 12 News interviews Jacy Smith on the UAT campus.
More info about Perimeter83 can be found at https://perimeter83.com/.
More info about UAT can be found at www.uat.edu.
More info about AZ StRUT can be found at https://azstrut.org/
CanaryTrap, a technique by academics from the University of Iowa. Revolves around the concept of a honeytoken.
Honeytokens represent fake data, tokens, or files that IT peeps scatter across their network. When the data is tempered with the IT admins at the time can detect any malicious activity.
How it relates to CanaryTrap the honeytokens were unique email addresses that academics used to register Facebook accounts. (See where this is going?)
After registering an account, the researchers installed one of many Facebook apps, messed with it for 15 minutes after that they uninstalled the accounts.
Researchers monitored the honeytoken email inbox. If the inbox received any new emails, then there was third party data being shared.
The academic team reportedly tested about 1,024 Facebook apps using the CanaryToken technique. They have identified 16 apps that did share email addresses with third-parties.
With these 16 apps, only nine apps actually state they had a relationship with the email sender. The other seven apps did not state they shared user data with other parties.
CanaryTrap, research, and associated tools is all available on GitHub. "to help independent watchdogs detect misuse of data shared with third-party apps without needing cooperation from online social networks."
Facebook has sued several developers even changing its Terms of Service and making sure they have more power to enforce their rules.
Facebook is cooking up new terms to limit the information developers can share with third parties without receiving consent from users. To also make sure developers understand they must safeguard user data if they wish to use Facebook's platform and user-base for their own goals.
Personally I dislike Facebook due to how they made that big leak with their third-party which leaked millions upon millions of user's data for every thieving black hat to grab and sell on forums. At least knowing they are actively trying to prevent user data from being misuse helps my opinion on them.
Want to fight cyber criminals every day? Find out more about our cyber security degrees offered at https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees.
Ransomware: an emerging form of malware that locks the user out of their files or their device, then demands an anonymous online payment to restore access, according to malwarebytes.com/.
This very devious type of cyber attack is delivered by spam through unsolicited email, and now, the FBI is cautioning K-12 school districts to be prepared for an uptick in ransomware attacks.
At UAT, we recently received an FBI alert that hackers are currently targeting K-12 schools. Why schools? According to the FBI, schools are an opportunistic target as more are transitioning to distance learning. Provost Dr. David Bolman discussed this with Maria Hechanova of Arizona’s Family News.
“What ransomware attacks are trying to do is shut schools down, especially when they’re very busy, resources are stressed, and they’re getting ready to do things they’ve never done before,” explained Dr. Bolman. “Ransomware doesn’t actually care about the information, by and large they’re not trying to sell your information, they just know you need the info to function,” he said.
Dr. Bolman, UAT Provost
Clearly, that’s a big problem for all school districts. Those with data held for ransom may have to cancel classes or even close school for days. In fact, Flagstaff Unified School District was forced to close for two days last fall after its employees were targeted through their district email accounts, as reported by AZ Ed News.
So how does it work? Hackers appearing legitimate trick people into opening attachments or clicking on links in emails, or someone could be redirected from a valid site to a criminal server that collects data—without even interacting.
“Ransomware quietly collects your information and at some point in time, when they feel they have enough information that you value, they will lock your computer down and require you to use a very specific code that only they can provide to unlock your data and of course ask money for that, hence the ransom,” added Dr. Bolman.
Bolman added that all sizes of school districts are being targeted for different reasons, but mostly because faculty and staff are stretched thin, and it makes sense to be focused on curriculum and operational procedures than cyber security.
“What’s happening right now is all the K-12 schools are scrambling trying to figure out how they’re going to deliver their classes in a pandemic mode and that’s causing administrations to do a couple things: one, be a little distracted, two, they’re going to be using far more computers than they’ve ever used before and that’s a vulnerability.”
According to the FBI, school districts should never give into demands, because they’re not guaranteed to ever get their files back. The following actions are also suggested by the FBI:
If you do suspect your data is being collected, or a threat is made, don’t hesitate to contact the FBI at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, by phone at (855) 292-3937, or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. Stay vigilant!
Want to fight cyber criminals every day? Find out more about our cyber security degrees offered at https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees.