Living your life online in 2018 is easy. It’s where we work, connect with friends and shop— especially shop. But setting up each new account can feel like it takes forever, not to mention the aggravation of coming up with another new password and trying to remember it.
David Green, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Governors State University, understands the frustration.
“It’s important for security purposes, but it can’t be so aggravating to the consumer that the person thinks, ‘I’m not going to order things from this company anymore,’ or ‘I’m going to switch to a different bank,’ ” said Green, also Division Chair of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Management Information Systems.
Green’s research and teaching straddle the two spheres of information technology and human-computer interaction, an area with world-wide impact as computers have become integral to nearly every aspect of our daily lives.
Of course it wasn’t always so. In 2002, computers were everywhere but people were still getting used to the idea of going online. Amazon was only selling books and CDs, and people were still nervous about turning over their credit card information to a website. Part of the challenge for companies, he realized, was making websites easier to use for their customers. Today, his research focuses on insider threats to information security and human-computer interaction. While several highly publicized recent data breaches have been the work of someone with malicious intent, many others are accidental, Green said.
Initially a humanities major, Green switched to computer information systems—the study of how human beings use computers to manage information in a business context.
While working on his master’s degree, a professor recommended he earn his doctorate. “He encouraged me to go beyond what I was envisioning for myself,” Green said. He earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2005.
Receiving that life-altering advice has spurred Green to expand boundaries for students at GSU. Recently he helped arranged for the multi-national consulting firm, Deloitte, to host mock interviews on campus.
“We’re working hard to give GSU business students opportunities outside the classroom because that helps open their eyes to careers they may not have thought of,” Green said.
For Green, who joined GSU in 2007 and won the Faculty Excellence Award in Research & Teaching two years later, organizing such events is part of his passion. As Division Chair, his other responsibilities include helping GSU’s College of Business achieve the top accreditation for business schools from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
“People may share passwords to sites. Or they may log onto a site from a computer with shared access but forget to log out,” he said. “That happens a lot.”
GSU Newsroom: Can you share some tips for browsing safely online?
Green: Sure. Always make sure your operating system and web browsers are up to date. Up to date browsers do a great job at recognizing websites that are not secure.
Be skeptical of links and websites. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t respond to emails that say your account has been hacked and ‘click here’ to reset your password. Don’t click on those links if you haven’t requested a password reset yourself. Many phishing emails can look very similar to one you might receive from your bank or place of work. Instead go directly to the website or account directly.
Use credit cards or online payment services like PayPal rather than debit cards. Credit cards typically have more security so it’s easier to resolve issues related to fraud and online accounts.
Make sure any web page where you’re making a purchase or transaction as an HTTPS in the web address.
If you’re unfamiliar with a website, do some research to see if it’s a legitimate company or organization.
Many hackers attempt to get information about you via social media, so be careful who you connect with on social platforms.
GSU Newsroom: What does it take to make sure an online account is secure?
Green: Most banks and investment companies now use multifactor authentication for financial accounts. That means that in addition to requiring a password, they also send a code via text or phone call that you have to enter. Some accounts use more than this. The challenge is it creates more possibilities that you may not be able to easily access your own information. But if an account uses only a password, you should recognize it may place your information at higher risk of being exposed.
GSU Newsroom: What's the best way to create a good password?
Green: It depends on the account, but in general a lengthy password is good. Some accounts and systems limit the password length and require it to have different types of characters, which can make a long password challenging to use in all settings. A password generator can also be good, but it may create passwords that are strong but challenging to remember. Using a password manager that helps you keep track of them can help. Just make sure it uses encryption so even if the password data is stolen it won’t be able to be used.