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USC Journalism Students Getting Extra Shot of Cybersecurity Training

laptop on a desk with security icon on screen

A cohort of journalism and communications students will receive an extra dose of digital security training and access to security resources. The training program will reach 250 students attending the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; thecurriculum being used was co-developed by USC Annenberg and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization that monitors threats to the press worldwide and advocates for public-interest journalism.

As part of the program, students will also receive YubiKeys, a thumb-sized device for authentication, from Yubico. The key, which comes in several shapes depending on what kind of device it's intended for, will let students secure their major electronic services, including e-mail, social media, password managers and file storage.

According to Marc Ambinder, adjunct professor of journalism at USC who is leading the school's efforts, journalists are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks by criminal and state organizations that want to gain access to passwords, the names and details of sources and other kinds of personal information.

In a published interview with Yubico, Ambinder explained that students will receive the security training as part of a mandatory curriculum. "Most journalists don't receive anything more than a basic standard module even after they graduate journalism school," he stated. "We aim to give our students not just the tools but an approach that they can use throughout their careers to better secure themselves, their colleagues and their sources."

Ambinder said he chose YubiKey, which he uses himself, to provide two-factor authentication, which "can be an immediate game-changer in terms of reducing the spear-phishing/phishing threats, which are still a major attack vector. Using the keys makes it much harder for anyone to break into social media and work-product apps that we all use."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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