CWU News

CWU Observes National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

News accounts confirm that data breaches and other forms of cybercrime become more prevalent and increasingly sophisticated. Helping the general public understand its critical role in promoting a safer, more secure and trusted Internet is the focus of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). 2019 National Cybersecurity Awareness Month logo


The theme of this year’s NACSM is Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.  The emphasis is on accountability and proactivity to enhance cybersecurity at home and work. The key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices, and ecommerce security.


In connection with NCSAM, CWU’s Information Security Services will sponsor three free, public events throughout October.


An experts’ panel will discuss a range of issues pertaining to cybersecurity on Thursday, October 10, at noon in the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC) Pit.


The panel will include CWU lecturer Deborah Wells, Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM), who was a cyber-computer officer in the United States Air Force (USAF) for 21 years.


“What keeps me up at night is industrial cybersecurity; making sure our critical infrastructure is protected,” Wells said, “making sure that the cyber professionals who are put in charge at Hanford, or the Bonneville Dam, or the other dams, or the electrical grids are on top of their game. Because those are areas that could really do devastation to human life.”

Wells will be joined by Robert Holtfreter, CWU Distinguished Professor of Accounting and Research, who is nationally known for his research in fraudulent practices, security breaches, and identity theft; associate professor Nathan White, ITAM, who also served as a USAF information technology manager; and Connor Hilburn, president of CWU’s Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking Club. 


A lunch-and-learn on how to remove personal data from the Internet is set for Wednesday, October 16, at noon in SURC 137A. Kellon Benson, a CWU information security analyst, will lead the informational session.


And, Holtfreter will be the featured presenter at an identity theft workshop on Wednesday, October 30, at noon in SURC 137A.


Wells says there are steps that everyone should take to safeguard their digital life.


“Make sure you check your bank account every day,” she advises. “Make sure that you are aware—you have some cyber awareness. Use some good digital wisdom and cyber hygiene to protect yourself.” 


Held every October, NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry, including the US Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, to increase awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that resources are available for citizens to be safer and more secure online. Wells says threats are prevalent worldwide, which she impresses on her students thorough real-time, in-class monitoring.


“It’s a Norse attack map. What it’s depicting is it’s real-time attacks going on all over the world,” Wells explains.  “You can see the flying—the attacks are going from the United States to, probably, China, and from China to the United States and to the Middle East and to Europe. It’s just a live-attack map. So, this Norse company is saying these are all the attacks going on right now. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be stealing data, necessarily, if you have all of your ducks in a row and you have a good cybersecurity defense. But it just means there are lots of attacks.”


Wells teaches a variety of classes in CWU’s cybersecurity program, ranked among the nation’s best online cyber-crimes courses by BestColleges, which provides independent college rankings and other higher education research. 





Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,