The Stranger in Your Phone: Stalkerware

For many of us, our phone is the lifeline connecting us with family, friends, school and work at the touch of a screen. It is also home to sensitive information such as bank accounts, passwords and locations. There are benefits to having this information at our fingertips; but with great power, comes great responsibility. Because this one powerful device holds so much sensitive information, cybercriminals use stalkerware to access your device, without your knowledge, and acquire your information.

What is stalkerware?

Stalkerware is a monitoring spyware that allows cybercriminals to track and access your phone, undetected, once it has been installed on your device. Stalkerware is usually hidden in plain sight through an application download and even in your settings, making it difficult for users to notice it is there. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, 53,870 mobile users were victims of stalkerware just in 2020.

What can be accessed on my phone with stalkerware?

Cybercriminals can access multiple functions on your phone and use them to complete the actions below: 

  • Track you through your GPS location
  • Read your private messages (e.g., text messages and emails)
  • See and hear through your camera and microphone (THINK: a never-ending live stream)
  • Monitor your internet activity

How can I ensure I am safe from stalkerware?

Apple and Android devices have various preventive measures to ensure their users do not fall victim to spyware. Still, no technology is 100% and some compromised applications may slip through the cracks. Look below for ways you can ensure you are safe from stalkerware.

iPhone users

iPhone users benefit from Apple’s lockdown approach to applications and app security. Apple’s software does not allow applications to incorporate themselves deep into the device’s software, making it virtually impossible to install stalkerware.

Android users

Google removes applications in the Google Play Store that show any evidence of stalkerware. 

Ways to detect that your phone may have stalkerware installed:

  • Receiving notifications from software you do not recognize
  • Noticing unfamiliar applications found in your listed apps
  • Your phone heating up or losing battery while not in use
  • Noticing changes in your security settings (most software is hidden within security sections of your settings)

How can I protect my phone?

Update, update, update. Keeping your applications and mobile devices up to date provides protection to your device. Most updates include security patches, which is a repair to a security weakness found in software devices. 

Make updates convenient by using the below tips to ensure your device remains protected:

  • Change the settings on your device to “Auto Update”
  • Start your updates to you phone before you go to bed so you could wake up ready to go

Upcoming Change to Email

laptop with a coffee mug

Hey Bearkats! We have exciting news. Your SHSU email account is moving to the cloud very soon.

Why? Great question.

This move will offer you many benefits including:

  • Up-to-date email account with new features and fixes: Microsoft updates their cloud products frequently to ensure you have the latest and greatest tools at your fingertips. In addition, instead of large updates that take time, you’ll see small changes as each automatic update occurs.
  • Access when you need it from anywhere: This benefit provides the same 99.9% guaranteed access rate that we’ve all come to love, from any device.
  • Larger inbox storage: Emails can be stored (with attachments) for large projects without having to worry about reaching your storage quota.
  • Email on the cloud can grow with us: SHSU is already has grown tremendously in just the last few years and this upgrade will grow with us for years to come with no impact to you or our email system.

What’s the catch? You caught us, there is a small one. We (IT@Sam) simply need you to be aware of a few actions (if applicable) that you might need to complete after your SHSU email account lands on the cloud. The list is so short we can fit it right into this article:

  • Mobile Email Applications: You will need to delete and re-add your email account on your Apple (Mail or Outlook app) or Android (Mail or Outlook app) device.
  • Windows Outlook:  You will simply re-enter your password when prompted.
  • Mac Outlook: You will need to delete and re-add your email account.
  • Outlook Web App: Clear your cache to ensure you are automatically redirected to the new Office 365 Outlook website from mail.shsu.edu to access your email.
  • Synced Contacts: Contacts that are synced from Exchange to your phone may temporarily disappear but will come back once you re-add your email account back to your phone.

If you have any questions or concerns about this upgrade, reach out to the IT@Sam Service Desk, we are happy to help!.

Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day is an international event that takes place every year to educate and empower individuals to take charge of their data.

This year’s theme focuses on “owning your privacy” and one way to participate is to take time today to manage your privacy settings.

Simply review the privacy settings on all your devices and online services (THINK: phones, tablets, shopping accounts, social media, music accounts, etc.) to ensure that your information remains protected and in your control.

Remember, though this is an official day to promote data privacy, practicing these simple steps to manage your privacy can be done at any time. Data privacy is necessary every day and you never know when one of your settings may unintentionally get changed or when a new privacy setting option may show up.

For more information about data privacy and how you can protect your information at work, school and home, check out this “About Data Privacy Day” article from the National Cybersecurity Alliance.

Solution: Delayed Services – Campus Desktop Computers

We have implemented a solution for all computers that will improve login times and ability to access the S drive. To complete this update, we are asking everyone to complete the below steps. Please note, the steps may seem repetitive but it is necessary to complete all four steps to update the setting.

  • Shut down your computer, wait 10 seconds
  • Turn your computer back on, wait for the login screen to come up. Do not log in.
  • Shut it down again using the power icon on the bottom right side of your screen and wait 10 more seconds
  • Turn your computer back on and log in

If you can easily login to your computer and access your documents and applications, then the update was successful. If this solution does not effectively work for you, please contact the IT@Sam Service Desk to let us know.

Additionally, we are restarting all computers overnight in labs and classrooms to ensure this problem does not occur tomorrow.

IT@Sam Service Desk
Academic Building I, Room 145
Sam Houston State University
ServiceDesk@shsu.edu
936.294.1950

NOTICE: Adobe Creative Cloud is Ending Temp. At-Home Access 8/15/2020

Adobe Creative Cloud is ending their temporary at-home access for their desktop apps on Saturday, August 15, 2020. Prior to this date, save any work located in these apps that you want to keep to your SHSU OneDrive or other preferred storage device, such as a hard drive or flash drive.

Students who are enrolled or registered for a class that requires Adobe Creative Cloud, such as art or mass communications, will still have access for their courses.

Additionally, all on-campus computer labs offer the Adobe Creative Cloud suite available for use regardless of your major or minor, simply sign in with your SHSU credentials. For your protection in the labs, our IT@Sam Labbies are practicing health and sanitation guidelines per the CDC.

  1. Face coverings are required
  2. Each computer, desktop and chair is sanitized after every use
  3. Social distancing is enforced with all workstations spaced 6-feet apart or with utilization of every other workstation. To accommodate this change, additional labs have opened to meet student needs

For questions regarding these procedures, please contact the IT@Sam Service Desk.

P.S. Adobe offers various FREE applications to assist you on-the-go with photo and video editing, graphic design and more.

IT@Sam Service Desk
Academic Building I, Room 145
Sam Houston State University
ServiceDesk@shsu.edu
936.294.1950