Conference to inform students and faculty on cyber security

Chelsea Weeks, Assistant News Editor 

Most students can be found with a phone in their pocket, or a laptop in their backpack. With homework due, upcoming tests, or pending tuition payments, the last thing on a student’s mind is being safe when spending time online.

Oklahoma Baptist University is hosting the very first Cyber Security Conference next Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The focus of the conference is to teach students how to be safe when spending time online. Presentations from speakers will take place in the upper GC while various vendors will have booths set up in the lower GC.

“Alias Forensics and OBU are partnering and putting this event together,” Dr. Renita Murimi, associate professor of computer science, said. “They have sourced all the speakers, arranged the schedule, and arranged the sponsors. We are merely providing the space and any support that they need. We are hoping for this to be a reoccurring event every fall.”

Everyone is welcome to attend. Lunch and refreshments will be provided upon registration, which can be done online or in person between 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Registration is a way to keep track of how many people attended and enters them into a raffle for a prize at the end of the day.

The founder of Alias Forensics, Donovan Farrow, is the key note speaker and will be kicking off the conference with his presentation “Hold the Line: Blue Team” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

“Talks like this improves awareness,” Dr. Murimi said. “They help people already working in this field learn new things because it is an evolving field. Maybe 20 years ago this was not a big concern, but now everyone has a stake in cyber security even if you’re an accounting major or a journalism major. Whenever we go online or whenever we’re in a network, there are ways in which our security and data can be compromised.”

OBU’s very own, Assistant Vice President for Information Systems and Service Gary Nickerson, will be presenting on the “Personal Practices in Cyber Security.” Many other speakers will be presenting a variety of different talks discussing how to protect yourself when engaging in activities online, whether for personal or professional use.

“Cyber security is something that all of us have a stake in even if we’re just individual users,” Dr. Murimi said. “Every time we go online there is the potential of being threatened by some kind of virus, phishing email or scam.”

Annette Orrick, a junior computer science major, who heard of the conference from Dr. Murimi in one of her computer science classes plans on using the conference as a way to meet people who work in her desired field and ask them questions to see if this could be a potential field of interest for her.

“I’m excited for the conference” Orrick said. “I’ve had it on my calendar for at least a month now. There’s not many opportunities like this at OBU and I want to make the most of it. I am really looking forward to networking with professionals in cyber security and asking questions about their specialty.”

Not only is the conference a way to network with people in different majors and fields, but it also can benefit anyone who works online.

“Everybody at OBU can learn more,” Dr. Murimi said. “All students, regardless of their major, can learn ways to stay safe online. Online does not mean just computer based activities. Almost everyone has a data plan that they get online and do a lot of stuff on their mobile phones. We work with technology extensively; we communicate via email, most of us are on social media, maybe we do banking online. It’s important that everyone attends at least one talk if they have the time that day.”

No matter the major, much can be learned from the conference.

“I hope it makes my peers more aware of our digital footprint, and inform students how to better protect their identity when using electronics,” Orrick said.

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