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Safeguarding AU Data through Patching and Encryption

Cyber criminals are looking for the easiest way to exploit computer systems and steal data. Protecting data by keeping software up to date and encrypting AU-owned computers are just two methods the Office of Information Technology is using to safeguard AU assets.

Patch management

Patch management is a process that regularly installs updates to protect out of date applications from cyber criminals looking to exploit their vulnerabilities. In April 2010, OIT began using the LANDesk patch management technology to guard against a known vulnerability in the Adobe Flash Player that could allow cyber criminals to take control of a user’s computer, stealing data, passwords, and more. In June, we began a standard repeatable monthly cycle of installing Microsoft’s security patches to vulnerable systems campuswide. We are currently working with our technology partners across campus to test the delivery of patches to Macintosh workstations, and we expect to roll out this capability later this year.

Encryption

Encryption is vital in reducing the risk of exposure of sensitive data. Have you ever walked away from your laptop—even for a minute? Lost or stolen laptops are often a primary cause for the exposure of sensitive data. Using encryption can help protect American University’s data and yours. OIT has been working to build a repeatable process for encrypting AU-owned workstations. The first phase of implementation required an old-fashioned “sneakernet” approach, which required calling each person to schedule an appointment and then walking to the customer’s workstation.

As AU’s IT asset lifecycle changes by 20 percent each year due to replacement needs, we have worked to integrate encryption into multiple processes, including encrypting all new AU-owned laptops before they are delivered to users. To successfully accomplish our goal of encrypting all AU-owned workstations, we will need the help of every campus user.

To learn more about these initiatives, visit the Fall 2110 OIT Online Newsletter at www.american.edu/oit/publications/newsletter/fall2010/.

Contact the IT Help Desk at 885-2550, helpdesk@american.edu, or instant message AskAmericanUHelp for any further information or to request that your laptop or desktop be encrypted.