How Can You Stay Safe From a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware has dominated the news recently. Headline after headline reads:

Many of us may scroll past these news stories because we think ransomware attacks only affect large corporations, but cyber-attackers count on catching you unprepared.

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), “ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.” 1

CISA continues to say that anyone with a computer or device connected to the internet or anyone with data stored on their computer, device, or network – including individuals, small businesses, large businesses, government agencies, and healthcare systems – all of these people or groups are at risk from a ransomware attack. 1

Since essentially everyone is at risk and very few of us have millions (or even hundreds) of dollars to pay to get ransomed information released, what can we do?

Dr. Geoffrey Hill, Department Chair of Computer Information Systems and Analytics in the UCA College of Business, has some simple advice: back up your data.

“There are many file synchronization services that are easily available to individuals or small businesses,” said Hill. The automatic synching feature makes it easy to use and guarantees that recent changes are automatically synched to the service’s cloud-based storage.” 2

Hill recognized that the synched files could include the ransomware’s encrypted files but also says that major services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive, provide file recovery and roll-back features that help you to restore individual files or even your entire file library when necessary. He cautions users to be careful when choosing a service because some of them are free while others are only available through tiered levels of paid protection plans. 2

If you don’t have one of these services, make yourself a note to try one, and if you are ever a victim of a ransomware attack, U.S. CISA recommends, “victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA at www.us-cert.gov/report, a local FBI Field Office, or Secret Service Field Office.” 1

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a cybersecurity professional, check out UCA’s Bachelor of Science degree in Cybersecurity Management. With headlines like these, demand for individuals educated and trained in Computer Information Systems and Analytics will likely only increase.


Sources:

1 Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. (2021, July 7). Ransomware Guidance and Resources. Retrieved from www.cisa.gov/ransomware.

2 Hill, G. (2021, July 6). University of Central Arkansas College of Business. [Personal Interview].

Three UCA College of Business Alumni Named to Arkansas Business “20 in Their 20s” List

Arkansas Business has announced its 2021 class of “20 In Their 20s”, including three alumni from UCA’s College of Business. Ericka Gutierrez, Grace Rains, and Joyti Lal were named as rising business and community leaders.  [Read more…]

Career Networking Opportunity for UCA’s Rising Juniors & Seniors

Rising Juniors & Seniors, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to be the first students to meet recruiters and form career connections. This is a speed interview opportunity, and you will interview with six different companies in one hour. These companies are ready to offer entry-level positions to begin after graduation.

Before the interview day, you’ll also get a review of your resume and training about how to dress appropriately and deliver an impactful interview.

Spaces are limited, so sign up as soon as possible. Download the details and contact UCA CAREER SERVICES at 501-450-3134 or careerservices@uca.edu.

IT Career Connection: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
  • Students must be classified as a Junior or Senior by the first day of Fall 2021 classes
  • Must be an Applied Math, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems or MIS major
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.75
  • Graduating: December 2021, May 2022, August 2022, December 2022, May 2023, or August 2023
Career Connection: Wednesday, September 15, 2021
  • Students must be classified as a Senior by the first day of Fall 2021 classes
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Graduating: December 2021, May 2022 or August 2022

COB Advisory Board Member Featured in AY Magazine, Gives Advice to Women in Business

Donna Townsell, award-winning businesswoman and member of the College of Business Advisory Board, was recently featured in AY Magazine. In the interview Townsell gave advice that no aspiring woman in business should miss.

“Sometimes I’m the only female in the room. My approach has always been to listen and learn as much as possible. When the time is right, speak with confidence and add your voice to the conversation,” said Townsell.

After 28 years in business, Townsell has used this philosophy to attain senior leadership positions and gain many accolades, including the Women in Business Diamond Achievement Award.

Read more of Townsell’s “Woman Wednesday” feature in AY Magazine.

UCA Economist, Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl, Receives Award for COVID-19 Work

(Conway, AR) – Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) College of Business, has been recognized for his work to provide accurate coronavirus information and dispel misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The award comes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which announced on Sunday its ten most recent winners across North America.

Dr. Horpedahl won the prize for his policy and data analysis on pandemic-related economic topics such as coronavirus precautions, tolls and trends, vaccination development and distribution, unemployment, as well as local, national, and worldwide financial impacts.

“Part of what motivated me was simply to understand the pandemic better myself, and I was glad to help others navigate the same questions that I had about the state of the world,” said Dr. Horpedahl.

Horpedahl was also a co-recipient of another award from the Mercatus Center for the blog EconomistWritingEveryDay.com, where he is a weekly contributor.

“Dr. Horpedahl’s efforts to communicate complex topics in a more approachable way has helped inform and educate others about economic policy. This is important work during an already confusing and stressful time, and we are proud of his effort and impact,” added Dr. Michael Hargis, Dean of the UCA College of Business. [Read more…]

ACRE Program Coordinator Aquia Joins Arkansas Social Studies Standards Revision Committee

Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE) Program Coordinator Terra Aquia recently joined the 2021 Arkansas Social Studies Standards Revision Committee, part of the Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

She will work with the committee of teachers, curriculum specialists, higher education representatives, and community partners to revise and update Arkansas’s current standards for K-12 students. The committee ensures that upon graduation, each student is prepared for college, career, and community engagement.

As an ACRE Program Coordinator, Aquia creates educational content, resources, and opportunities that teachers can use in their classrooms to improve the economic understanding of Arkansas students.

UCA College of Business Names 2020-2021 Outstanding Students

On April 8, 2021, the UCA College of Business held its annual Student Honors Banquet to celebrate the academic achievements of the College’s students and recognize the outstanding students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Outstanding students are those who take advantage of educational opportunities and show exemplary academic performance through internships, professional development and experiential education, volunteerism, and participation in clubs and activities.

The following students were awarded an outstanding status, chosen from over 1600 undergraduate and graduate students: [Read more…]

Doug Voss: 2021 Trucking Outlook ‘Better’ Than 2020

Doug Voss, Ph.D., professor of logistics and supply chain management, said the outlook for the trucking industry is better for 2021 than last year.

“We’ve seen what I would characterize as a V-shaped recovery,” Voss told Talk Business & Politics. “Those that were down really didn’t stay down for long.”

While there hasn’t been a perfect year for trucking — with the good often offsetting the bad — he said carriers will have to increase driver pay and attract more good drivers. At the start of the pandemic, freight demand fell, especially for carriers serving the automotive industry. Demand, however, was strong for those hauling goods for retailers.

“We’ve seen what I would characterize as a V-shaped recovery,” Voss said. “Those that were down really didn’t stay down for long.”

Voss said the top challenge in the new year would be finding new drivers. Read more here.

UCA MBA Program Named to Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools List

The University of Central Arkansas’ Master in Business Administration program was named to The Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools list of Best On-Campus MBA programs.

The list recognized the top 244 on-campus MBA programs around the country and was based on survey data from more than 17,800 students and school administrators.

“What makes our Best Business Schools list unique is that we factor in data from our surveys of students attending the schools about their campus and classroom experiences,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of ­The Princeton Review.

Student respondents identified cost, diversity, high academic standards, job prospects upon graduation and accessible, knowledgeable faculty as attributes that separated the UCA MBA program from others.

“It has been our goal over the last few years to grow our program and provide a high-quality, affordable and flexible graduate program that our students could use to advance their careers,” said Mark McMurtrey, Ph.D., director of the UCA MBA program. “Our continued inclusion in this ranking of top MBA programs in the country shows our students find value in our program and the concentrations we now offer.”

The UCA MBA program has more than 150 students — up from 89 in 2016 — and offers concentrations in finance, health care administration and information management, as well as an option to embed a graduate certificate in data analytics. It is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

How to Engage College Students in Online Learning

The switch to online learning has left professors at universities and colleges across the country scrambling for ways to effectively bring traditional, classroom teaching models to students who now attend classes from their homes, apartments and dorms by way of a computer screen.

Anthony McMullen, J.D., assistant professor of business law

Anthony McMullen, J.D., associate professor of business law in the UCA College of Business, was part of a team of seven professors at the Academy of Legal Studies in Business to create a summary of effective strategies for professors to use for online learning in higher education.

The researchers found the best way to have success teaching college courses online was to quickly orient students, humanize the online environment and maintain engaging course material.

“Many professors need guidance on this, so our purpose was to compile these tips in hopes those who are new to online teaching could gain ideas and have time to carefully plan and prepare for their courses,” McMullen said.

Welcome Module

The first step identified was having a welcome module with a host of content that introduces students to the instructor and the course. The goal is to give students “low-stakes opportunities” to get engaged and learn how to find course material and complete assignments throughout the semester.

This can include a welcome email or video, an instructor bio, student introductions, the course syllabus, a how-to video on navigating course content and assignments and introductory assignments such as a syllabus quiz.

“This helps support and guide students through the online environment, especially if they are new to online courses,” the report states.

Humanizing the Course

Professors must also have a strong emphasis on the connection between faculty and students, as well as between students, the researchers found.

“You have to find a way to humanize the course and content,” the report states. “Professors need to facilitate multiple interactions with students without creating a barrier between technology and student engagement with the material. Previous research has found students from at-risk demographic groups had lower performance in online courses.”

One important factor to this is the use of online discussion boards.

“These can help instructors bridge the pedagogical gap between face-to-face and online learning by encouraging active student engagement,” the report said.

While discussion boards are often used, getting students to participate can be challenging, so it is important for professors to layout instructions and expectations from the beginning.

“This will encourage participation and create an environment of accountability and mutual respect,” the researchers said. “One tip is to have students not only post their own threads, but be required to comment on other student posts as well.”

Presenting On-Screen

Professors should use both synchronous and asynchronous material that effectively present the content of the course, complement one another and improve student motivation.

Synchronous instruction can include video conferencing to provide feedback on assignments, techniques and exam review.

“One recent technique that has found student satisfaction is presenting the professor’s screen,” the report states. “This allows professors to show PowerPoint slides normally shown during class. Professors can write and draw on the whiteboard and students can see that happening, just like a normal class.”

Voice-over PowerPoint presentations is an effective way to implement asynchronous learning, as well as assigning students to view short videos — preferably 6 minutes or less — on single topics discussed in the material.

“These ideas and others discussed in our article will be effective for teaching online, even when students return to physical classrooms,” the report said. “These strategies will help instructors reach and educate students wherever they may be.”