A proud member of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter at George Mason University, Kristina spent her undergraduate years cultivating key workplace skills she would ultimately need to become the chief of the Cyber Education and Awareness Branch at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Inspired and empowered by her own experiences, Kristina began working with the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Though she had no technical background at that time, she became interested in how increased connectivity began impacting our daily lives and affecting our country’s national security.
“At this point in our society, people don’t know how to live without their mobile device and that is why awareness and education are so important,” she says.
September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, followed by National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. “National Cyber Security Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident,” Kristina says.
While increased connectivity can offer many conveniences and opportunities, it also can also create increased risk. Some of the most common risks are identity theft, monetary theft, stalking and cyber bullying.
What is the biggest cyber concern facing collegians today? Kristina cites oversharing as a threat to all internet users. She says that the Library of Congress is currently cataloguing every Tweet as part of a social media project, and that is only one example of how what you put online is permanent.
“More importantly,” Kristina says, “college students need to understand that what they are doing online today could have a profound impact on their future. Just be certain that the online persona you have today represents the real you and the person you want others to see.”
Another threat Kristina urges collegians be aware of, especially women, is the use of location services or sharing. “Cyberstalking is a serious concern for young women on college campuses. If you are regularly checking in places and pinpointing your exact location, you could be sharing with people who you may not know in real life and who may seek to do you harm,” she says.
The best advice Kristina offers is to treat cyber security just as seriously as other parts of your life. “Just as you take steps every day to keep yourself safe and healthy, you need to take steps to protect yourself online,” she says.
Collegians have the opportunity to engage in peer accountability when it comes to cyber safety, especially within our member organizations. “Everyone locks their doors at night, right? We all need to be sure to keep our ’digital’ doors locked as well. Just as you share your favorite new app with your friends, also remember to share your best safety tips too,” Kristina says.
For more on cyber safety, visit https://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month and www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
In addition check out the article in Alpha Omicron Pi’s To Dragma featuring Kristina and cyber security tips.