IT&N empowers students to protect the MUT network

MUT students and service providers

While the complexity of cyber crimes makes it difficult to guarantee a network’s security, the University’s Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) can now say with some reasonable amount of confidence that its staff and students will  be able to deal with some troublesome cyber behaviour. From 24-26 October 2022, the department ran sessions on cyber awareness. This was part of the cyber awareness activities that the department started rolling out last week to staff, as part of the cyber awareness programme  every October.

Njabulo Xaba, Project Leader from the IT&N department, said they were happy that over 2000 students attended the three-day event, where several IT experts provided valuable information to the students. Xaba said the central message from the experts was that everyone needed to be careful with messages they received from strangers, and they also needed to be careful about their behaviour while online.

Said Xaba: “Berea Computers’ Chief Executive Officer,  Ndumiso Buthelezi, advised the students not to click on the wrong links”. Buthelezi also impressed upon the students that they needed to create strong passwords on their mobile phones and laptops..

Xaba  mentioned  that the experts  gave a lecture on the cyber-related crimes that happen when people use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), particularly in the central business district, as most of the University’s students reside in town.

Xaba added that they decided to run sessions for the students because they are also users of the University network.

“Students use MUT Wi-Fi to access their study materials. Also, IT&N has invested a lot in internet provision for students staying on and off campus. Students use the student portal to access their marks and their health information which are built into the ITS system, hence it becomes necessary for IT&N to provide security awareness to them,” said Xaba.

Xaba noted that the students appreciated the effort.

“They were thrilled with the sessions; they have requested, through the Student Representative Council, that we arrange more security awareness sessions at their residences off campus. IT&N has welcomed this request; we will be embarking on the programme for the rest of the cyber security awareness month. These will take place every evening when students are at their residences,” Xaba.

Thelente Mtshali, a second-year Marketing Diploma student, said she learnt that it was important for an individual to protect their personal information, and create a strong password to be protected from cybercrime. Another second-year Marketing Diploma student, Mthunzi Dlulisa, said he learnt that 95% of people are affected by cybercrimes.

“To protect your personal computer from being hacked, you must install a firewall and anti-virus.

Mongi Nquphaza, an Ethical Hacker from Berea Computers, said it was very costly to deal with cyber crimes. Nquphaza also said that the top IT security threats that lead to data loss are malware, phishing attacks, accidental data leaks by staff, lack of staff training, outdated network infrastructure, and lack of systems to enforce some policies.  Nquphaza advised the students to stay away from hacking. He told them they would get caught and be punished.