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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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University IT games for online security awareness

IT+Cybersecurity+Game
via it.tamu.edu
IT Cybersecurity Game

With both students and professors relying heavily on online devices and services this semester, the importance of online security awareness is crucial.
Every year, Texas A&M’s IT Department creates online games for students, professors and faculty to increase their online security awareness. The games are meant to raise users’ awareness of potential threats to their online security so that they can avoid compromising their information and privacy. This year’s game is available year-round, along with past games; however, users can only earn a coupon and a chance to win prizes if played before Friday, Oct. 30.
Communications coordinator for the University IT Department Bobby Bernshausen said he hopes students and faculty participate in the online games the department creates for A&M annually.
“We do this every year in October as part of National Security Awareness Month,” Bershausen said. “Just for playing the game, they get a coupon for a free item from Blue Baker: a free cookie, a free iced tea or a free iced coffee, and that’s just for playing. Everyone wins that.”
Bershausen said the game does not take long to play, and once completed, the user is automatically entered for the grand prize giveaway which includes: Apple Watch Series 5, Apple Airpods, an iPad 10.2 inch, a pair of BeatX earphones, a pair of Beat Solo Free wireless headphones. The random drawing for the prizes will be on Nov. 2.
“If you play the game, our game is a mystery, it gives them clues throughout the game and as they go through emails, they must decide what is wrong with the fishy messages and the game provides an explanation,” Bershausen said. “It only takes 10 minutes to play the game and then you select your coupon, you’re then automatically entered into the giveaway.”
Bershausen said the game creator roles shifted this year due to COVID-19.
“This is an unusual year with COVID-19 but in years past the students always help us write the questions and with graphics,” Bershausen said. “This year, unfortunately they were only able to help us with social media posts.”
The online games are designed to simulate situations which would threaten online security. In fact, the department used actual scam emails in the game in order to teach users what to look out for.
“This year, phishing is a big focus of the game and so we show them email, which are all actual emails that have been used to scam people,” Bershausen said. “They go through and find what is wrong with them and as they find what’s wrong, they learn what to look for so when they receive emails on their campus email, they can recognize the scam.”
Bershausen said being security-aware benefits not only individual students, but the A&M community as well.
“You’re not just putting your account or yourself in jeopardy, you’re also putting Texas A&M data at risk [and] your classmates’ data at risk,” Bershausen said. “There’s so many things a scam can do so we want to make sure nobody falls for it because everyone is vulnerable.”
Communication junior Haley Ince, said she found the game both interesting and informative and she learned new ways to detect security threats and as an added bonus, earned a coupon.
“It taught me things to look for in emails that could be signs of phishing, like reasons why I should move something out of my junk folder, banks typically address people by name and not ‘valued customer,’” Ince said. “The coupon was a perk because towards the end of the month my bank account is looking a little low and any coupon or gift card is helpful.”
If students were unable to play for coupons or the grand prizes during the month of October, the games are still available for the public to play year-round at u.tamu.edu/games.

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