OPINION: Keep an eye on your personal cybersecurity

Phishing scams, online hackers are constant threats in the 21st century, but you can stay safe



Ensure your safety and protection online by following a few simple rules. Don’t click on suspicious links, and don’t give out your personal information.


Imagine seeing an email about a job that seems simple and will pay you good money. It’s debatable as to whether you answer the email and accept that job. Add to the scenario: you are a student and you need money, but your class load doesn’t leave you much time for work.

I got that email before fall began, and I believed it was real because I received the email in my WSU inbox. To add to that, the email had a WSU address. I did not have any doubts about this offer. I contacted them back, and in the evening, I received the answer that I had been offered the position.

To be honest, it was my first job in the U.S., and I was pleased to have it. My concerns about having to find easy well-paid work had melted like an ice cube on a hot sunny day.

I got the paycheck from the employer and very careful instructions on how I should deal with the money because the check included not only my salary but also money I should send to another bank account.

The instructions were strange. The email asked me to deposit the check only using my phone, but not at a physical bank location. Also, they said I should have the rest of the money sent to another provided account.

When I went to the bank, the bank worker said the paycheck was fake, and the job was not real. That day I learned two things. First, I learned a new phrase: phishing scam. Second, I realized that I could not trust everything that came through my school email.

All our classes are now online, and we use a lot of different software programs. How safe are we with online studying? What is the level of trust we should apply to WSU?

Haipeng Cai, assistant professor in WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, provided some information about Information Technology Services at WSU and some tips for students to protect their cybersecurity.

Cai said we should realize that all workers in WSU’s ITS go through a background check because WSU cares about the security of its students. They also have a policy about protecting any information students share with the university.

My concerns were centered around my personal information, like my bank account, when I pay tuition. I think it is important to reduce our stress by making us feel safe while studying online.

Think about how many different sites you visit every day: your e-books for classes, contact with your teacher on Blackboard or through Zoom meetings.

“It’s a good idea not to click on a link if you are not sure how safe the link is,” Cai said.

Curiosity is a good trait for being a good student, but not in this case. It is vital to be sure about every source you use and every link you click.

“For students, it is better to use the WSU [Virtual Private Network] VPN because it is more secure than using the internet at your apartments because WSU cares about the student’s cybersecurity more than apartments do,” Cai said.

Students should be aware that their cybersecurity is, first of all, their responsibility. As students, we should be wise in using any technology and remember that many people want to steal our information.

Cai said it is essential to have a virus protection system on your computer so it can recognize and block any would-be hackers.

I know many people, including me, who like to keep webpages open to avoid losing your work. It can be dangerous if you keep your bank account when you visit a different site with viruses that can read your password information.

I do not want to scare anybody — I only want to bring awareness to students about the things we can face online. Our safety should be top priority.

“We do have presentations during the year with some tips for students about cybersecurity,” said Bryan Jacobson, WSU Police Department Administrative Sgt. “But if you are faced with anything like a phishing scam email, please come to the WSU Police Department.”

I want to compare offline and online safety. If you are walking at night alone, you’d be aware of any suspicious person on the street. Online is the same; you should be aware of any information you share and about any suspicious information you receive daily.