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Released March 19, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Attorney General's Office and The University of Southern Mississippi will focus on how individuals and businesses can protect against information terrorism and other cyber crimes during a Brown Bag Lunch presentation Tuesday, March 25.

The event is set for 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in Joseph Greene Hall, Room 115, on the Southern Miss campus. The public is invited to the free seminar.

The keynote speaker is Chris Michaelsen, FBI special agent from the Jackson field office, who will speak on national cyber security strategies and issues faced by the Internet community. Following his address, Michaelsen will join a panel of experts for a question-and-answer session. The panel also includes Jean Vaughan, assistant attorney general, who is responsible for educating Mississippi on cyber crime; Dr. Steve Mallory, chair of the Southern Miss Criminal Justice Department; and Isaac Johnston, security administrator at Southern Miss. Following the sessions, members of the OTR technical staff will be available to distribute information and security tips.

"Our information is a valued commodity and an infrastructure tool of which we need to be more mindful," said Paige Strickland, director of the OTR Technology Infrastructure Unit. "If each of us does the job of protecting his or her computer and data, eventually it will have an overall impact on the entire system. This is where we can, as good citizens, contribute to our homeland security efforts."

Southern Miss President Shelby F. Thames said he encourages people to attend the special forum to learn more about protecting "valued information from cyber terrorism."

"The University of Southern Mississippi is initiating a technology security awareness campaign with the goal of protecting the integrity of information infrastructures," Thames said. "The information to be shared in this forum will be especially helpful to businesses, their information technology officers and security administrators in addition to our own campus community."

The biggest security concern on the Southern Miss campus, said Chief Technology Officer Candy Santell, is the proper stewardship of confidential and sensitive data that includes private employee and student information. "Improper handling of this data can result in unauthorized access to the data, potentially leading to such crimes as identity theft," Santell said. "Our goal is to get computer users to incorporate some basic security principles into their work on a daily basis."

For any computer user on or off campus, the threat of viruses is very real. Consequences of getting one can result in information being deleted from hard drives or being rendered unusable.

"Every month, 25 percent of the computers on campus are exposed to viruses," Johnston said.

The Security Awareness Day event is sponsored by the university's Office of Technology Resources (OTR) and is part of a comprehensive campaign intended to educate university employees and local businesses about using the best practices in maintaining the integrity of computer data and entire information systems.

For more information on Security Awareness Day, contact Evelyn Green at 266-4359.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM