Art by Madeline Duvall
Security, as derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is one of our most basic functions before the procession to other necessities like socializing or “self-actualization,” according to Psychology Today. With safety as a crucial component in our daily lives, humans don’t question its vitality. It’s common sense: From childhood, people are told not to walk around unlit streets by ourselves at night. People are warned not to touch the stove when it’s hot.
Some people even take self defense classes in case of an attack. Pepperdine normally offers them, and encourages them, especially when students are about to go abroad. It’s not paranoia, it’s precaution. Indifference is not an absence of fear, it’s a risk.
Therefore, why be indifferent to our technological safety? Is our information not as sacred as our physical selves? In the same way Pepperdine provides defense classes for students who want to learn how to defend themselves against predators, Pepperdine IT has provided guides for students to protect their information from being corrupted or stolen by the virtual ones: Spectre and Meltdown, viruses that aim to break into both Macs and PCs, respectfully. With the tools at students’ disposal to protect themselves, it is imperative that all students take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from potential computer viruses.
These two technological tendrils feed on computers that are not “patched” or updated. Spectre gets its hands on information by exploiting the computer processor’s ability to speed up computers. Meltdown gives hackers a gateway into computer data through operating systems, according to a previous Pepperdine Graphic article, “Pepp IT Urges Comunity to Update Devices in Wake of Cyber Vulnerabilities,” patching computer devices, including smartphones, is a necessary precaution in defense of possible attacks. Think of a patch as the shield on a virtual battlefield.
Software companies like Apple or Microsoft have protections available through their websites. A helpful option via Pepperdine IT is to go to Browsercheck.pepperdine.edu to check for any updates or links needed to apply for effective software shielding, Pepperdine Chief Information Officer Jonathan See told the Pepperdine Graphic in a previous article.
On Jan. 5, Pepperdine IT sent out an email to all students addressing the Spectre and Meltdown security issue and urging them to take necessary precautions to protect their devices. A follow-up email was sent Jan. 16 with instructions on how exactly to keep patches updated and be sure to cover all vulnerabilities.
In their Jan. 9 press release, Pepperdine IT said to do the following to all personal devices in this order:
- Update your antivirus software
- Update your operating system
- Update Chrome and Firefox browsers
- Use browsercheck.pepperdine.edu
But even with the various instructions and emphasis IT is putting on protecting devices, it seems many students don’t seem to care or see the importance in it. Even with the compromising of Wavenet photos, students either had no idea or thought it wasn’t a big deal because they knew Pepperdine was “taking care of it.”
This brings up the question of why students aren’t taking these cyber threats seriously. Cybersecurity is a complex issue that has come up many times in recent years as technology continues to advance. With the changing tides of the technological landscape, it seems that now more than ever, people need to be vigilant and aware of the risks to their personal and private information and make taking the precautionary measures to protect themselves paramount.
IT has provided an online resource titled Information Security with links connecting students to all the ways in which their systems may be compromised and how they can protect them before disaster strikes.
Technological warfare is the new type of combat in this modern cyber-driven world and contrary to popular belief amongst some Pepperdine students, it can and most probably will affect them even if they don’t realize it. The need to wield swords and shields against these cyber attacks is vital if information is going to stay safe and protected behind the screens that so many blindly put their trust in.
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