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10/25/2019 - Jackson, Miss.

While most Mississippians spend October planning for the ghouls and goblins of Halloween, the chief information officers and staff at Mississippi Public Universities observe National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) with a focus on keeping cyber-monsters out of their IT systems throughout the year.

"We work with our institutional executive officers and information technology staff on the campuses to practice constant vigilance regarding cybersecurity year-round," said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. "We also stress the importance of training all employees on cybersecurity and how everyone has a vital role to play in protecting information housed within our systems."

Held every October, NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all American have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), partners with the National Cyber Security Alliance on the annual observance, which is now in its 16th year. President Donald J. Trump also issued a proclamation recognizing October of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

CISA recommends Organizational Cybersecurity Best Practices, including:
  • Elevate cyber security risk management discussions to the company CEO and the leadership team.
  • Implement industry standards and best practices rather than relying solely on compliance standards or certifications.
  • Evaluate and manage organization-specific cybersecurity risks.
  • Ensure cybersecurity risk metrics are meaningful and measurable.
  • Develop and exercise cybersecurity plans and procedures for incident response, business continuity and disaster recovery.
  • Retain a quality workforce.
  • Maintain situational awareness of cyber security threats.

Maintaining cybersecurity across our campuses is challenging as cyberthreats and phishing attacks become more advanced and students become increasingly reliant on devices connected to the Internet. Research suggests students typically bring seven connected devices to campus each year. Mississippi Public Universities are actively responding to these challenges by taking steps to use the latest technology and best practices available to ensure the security and integrity of systems and information. All eight universities have met or exceeded state requirements for third-party Security Risk Assessments and all have developed security policy plans and disaster recovery plans to ensure an additional level of preparedness.

While many Mississippians have seamlessly integrated digital devises into their daily lives and enjoy the flexibility and time-saving aspects of them, these devices also present risks to the users and the systems accessed through the devices. Cybersecurity is an ongoing focus for Mississippi Public Universities and their staff, both in the information technology offices and across the campuses.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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