College of Integrated Science and Engineering

Centennial Scholars Program hosts monthly cybersecurity workshops


SUMMARY: The cybersecurity workshops increase security awareness, while also broadening students' interests and motivating later success.

With recent cyberattacks on major companies including Anthem, T-Mobile, the Office of Personnel Management and even JMU, the Centennial Scholars Program created a monthly cybersecurity workshop for its students this school year.

Created in 2004, CSP provides a way for qualified but financially challenged students to attend JMU. Applicants must demonstrate a desire to attend JMU, be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant program and participate in a face-to-face to interview. Upon acceptance into the program, students are given a full-ride scholarship.

“Our main goal of the program is to educate the Centennial Scholars,” Edna Reid, an intelligence analysis professor and former FBI analyst, said. “We want to make sure they use the proper steps to protect themselves. Essentially,

Image: 2015 Cyber Security Stats

their behavior when using any form of technology should be as automatic as brushing their teeth in the morning.”

Many students in the program are thankful for the opportunities CSP has given them, including Desiree Edemba, a freshman biology major. 

“Without CSP, I probably would not have found a way to afford college,” Edemba said. “Also, the program made me feel as if I belonged at the university from the very first day of school. I came in already surrounded by a tight-knit group of people that really cared about my success as a student and a person.”

Edemba said she has made significant changes since the Centennial Scholars’ cyber security workshops began, such as creating stronger passwords and only opening emails from a known sources. 

“Most passwords that people use are the name of their dog with two numbers at the end of it,” Edemba said. “It’s incredibly unsafe because a hacker can find this type of information on your Facebook or other publicly available information. It’s better to use passwords that have a random assortment of uppercase and lowercase letters. I also don’t open up suspicious looking emails.”

According to Reid, one of the most important lessons the Centennial Scholars have learned is that cybersecurity is no longer an isolated issue. Instead, cyberattacks have broadened into a threat that can affect any person.

Read the full story in  The JMU Breeze.

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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