Generally speaking, we're expected to have hygienic habits that help keep us healthy: washing our hands, making our bed, brushing our teeth. As the use of technology continues to grow, the Nevada Cyber Club at the University of Nevada, Reno is working to teach Nevadans to develop hygienic cyber habits with the help of their trained cyber medics.
The Nevada Cyber Club is in its second year as a recognized organization by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada and sponsored by the College of Business, though the club itself welcomes students from all areas of study. The club has taken a "public health" approach when it comes to communicating cybersecurity information.
"The ‘medical' metaphor we're using to represent out approach to cybersecurity came out of looking at common bad habits within the cyber world," Adrienne Hill, president of the Nevada Cyber Club, said. "We decided that if we tackle those bad habits in a way that reminds people of how they keep themselves clean to protect against things like the common cold, then maybe we could make it easier to understand why we need to practice good cybersecurity hygiene."
The club has held four cyber clinics, with the fifth taking place on Nov. 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on the University's campus. During the cyber clinics, those with questions or issues regarding their devices, data, or cyber identity can speak to the club's cyber medics.
"Our cyber medics are essentially the club's members who have been trained to give personalized cybersecurity guidance using our three step 'triage, treat and train' methodology," Hill said. "Again, it's sticking with our medical metaphor, so we're basically diagnosing which problem with the device or the data or the online identity needs addressing, we treat it, and then we help our ‘patients' learn how to make sure they know how to avoid the problem or how to fix it if it shows up again."
The main objective of each cyber clinic is to teach people valuable techniques in cyber self-defense, which is particularly important for the club as Cybersecurity Awareness Month closes out with the end of October.
"Most of what we help with are problems that arise from how we use our devices day-to-day," Hill said. "Obviously, our cyber-medics are trained to handle a lot more, but helping people understand common cyber mistakes is such an important step to helping them avoid larger ones. With Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we want people to know that it's okay to not know how to do something and that it's okay to ask questions when it comes to being safe online."
Members working on their future
Outside of becoming cyber medics and participating in cyber clinics, members of the club have also participated in National Cyber League competition. The NCL is a three month long competition consisting of one round a month in which groups of teams work to complete challenges involving password cracking, web exploitation, reconnaissance and other cyber-related topics.
"Several of our members finished within the top 10 percent last year during our first time competing," Hill said. "Members don't have to choose between competing in the NCL or being cyber medics. Ultimately we want members to be able to get whatever experience they want to get from the club that they think will help them in the future."
Along with doing well in competitions, last year the club held a cyber clinic at the Governor's Mansion where they served over 175 State employees.
"I believe on our website we have it cited that EIN Newsdesk reported that the current unemployment rate for cybersecurity professionals is 0 percent," Hill said. "So when we compete in the NCL or hold our cyber clinics in the Governor's Mansion or train our cyber medics, it's to give our members the resume experience they need to stand out when they apply for job opportunities or internships, or have the connections they need to know where to start when they move onto the professional world."
Hill and the club hope they can continue to expand how often they hold cyber clinics as their membership grows.