BEIJING: Staff and students at the Chinese University in Hong Kong have been warned to secure their computers following recent revelations by CIA operative Edward Snowdenthat the varsity was the target of US cyberattacks.
An e-mail sent by the information security section of the University to all students and staff said, “protecting our data and information against hackers has recently become the talk of the town.”
Titled “Information security reminder – Keep your data out of hackers’ reach!”, the e-mail is understood to have landed in the inboxes of about 14,800 students and more than 7,500 staff yesterday, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today.
The mail included more than a dozen specific “do’s and don’ts” on how to block unauthorized access to personal data.
“We strive to protect all data processed and stored by the central information systems and data that flow through our campus network,” the e-mail read.
“But there are also simple practices that you may adopt to keep your valuable information and data out of hackers’ reach,” it said.
The caution came just over two weeks after whistle-blower Snowden told the Post before he left Hong Kong to Moscow that the Beijing-based Tsinghua University was among the targets of a US cyberspying programme besides Hong Kong University.
Snowden singled out Chinese University as one of several Hong Kong and mainland institutions targeted by US National Security Agency hackers.
Citing Snowden revelations, China said it proved the charge that it is a victim of cyberattacks from US.
The e-mail asked students and staff to protect computers by updating antivirus software, enabling a personal firewall and putting a password on all devices, as well as specific files like Excel or PDF documents.
It warned users not to store confidential data on smartphones and tablets and, if sending such information over the web, to encrypt the files first.
For extra security, it suggested using a digital certificate when sending a sensitive e-mail so that only the intended recipient would see it.
Other “don’ts” covered basic IT security such as not opening suspicious e-mails or disclosing passwords.