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December 12, 2013

What do you know about internet safety?

Learn about how to keep yourself safe on the internet.

By Mike Holliday

is our new landing page for information about how you can be more aware about the various ways methods you can become vulnerable to a security breach, personal identity theft, virus/malware infections, and other attacks to compromise your way of life.

November 14, 2013

Adobe Software Breach

Adobe Software users may be affected by a security breach at the company.

By Mike Holliday

In October, Adobe suffered a serious data breach that exposed all of their registered user accounts. Anyone who has ever purchased or registered their Adobe software, or signed up for announcements, has been exposed and will potentially be targeted for attacks.

In this message, we want to communicate major action points for those who may have become vulnerable due to this breach:

    • Anyone who used the same password for Adobe and other accounts (especially SVSU) should immediately change their passwords at the other locations and monitor for unusual activity.
    • You should do this by manually visiting the Adobe website, and not by clicking on links arriving via email.
  3. BE AWARE!
    • Be aware that additional phishing attempts will likely come to your account(s).
    • Do not open attachments - scrutinize the message(s) for authenticity.
    • Do not respond directly to messages seeking personal information. this includes username and password, or credit card information.
    • Do not click on links provided in messages (go to the proper site manually).
    • Be careful to not fall victim to phishing attempts that require you to provide credentials, for lack of service or to gain services.
  4. DO NOT USE YOUR INSTITUTIONAL PASSWORD for external web sites or Internet services.
    • If you reuse a password at multiple locations, when the password is compromised at one site, the miscreants then can gain access to all sites where you've used that password.
    • The best policy is to always use different passwords for different accounts.

November 8, 2013

Cryptovirus, aka CryptoLocker, and How it May Affect You

By Mike Holliday

This message pertains to recent news stories on various cable networks, including our local WNEM TV 5 reporting about Cryptovirus (aka CryptoLocker). The reports are about a serious and nasty variation of other past ransomware viruses like FBI CyberCrime and Homeland Security.  Watch this video for some insider technical information about how this virus works, from Sophos.

This latest variation informs you that your system files have been locked (encrypted) and you must pay $300 with X amount of time to get the key to unlock/decrypt your machine (or risk losing the key forever). And it actually does encrypt your files (see news articles below for a list of common files). Of course, there is no way you can trust them to provide you the key (after you give them your account information and money).

This infection is typically spread through emails sent to company email addresses that pretend to be customer support related issues from FedEx, UPS, DHS, etc. These emails would contain a zip attachment that when opened would infect the computer. These zip files contain executables that are disguised as PDF files as they have a PDF icon and are typically named something like FORM_101513.exe or FORM_101513.pdf.exe. Since Microsoft does not show extensions by default, they look like normal PDF files and people open them.

The only way to ensure you do not lose your files is to:

  1. Back your files up to a source that's not always connected to your computer or network. Variations of the virus may extend past your local hard drive and look for files on USB flash drives, external hard drives, and network shares.
    • Cloud-based backup solutions (such as DropBox or SkyDrive) would be ideal.
  2. Practice safe computing!
    • Make sure your computer anti-virus software is up to date.
    • Make sure System Restore is enabled
    • Most viruses are propagated through email links and attachments; phishing and scam emails attempting to be something they're not.
      • Scrutinize the messages and think critically - an ounce of suspicion should cause you to exercise extreme caution.
      • Do not blindly click on links; instead, visit the site manually (if you feel you must!)
      • Do not open attachments just to check them out!  Read the paragraph above about how these are typically spread!

Additional information below:

The recent Walmart Email is just one example of the Blackhole Exploit - read more here:

May 16, 2013

New Virus Attack: Emails

By Mike Holliday

The purpose of this message is to inform you of a new sophisticated Virus infected message, that does not require you to click on links - simply load the message into a "dated" web browser (like Firefox, IE, Chrome, Safari) and it searches for exploits on your computer.
If your system had AVG popup as you viewed it, and it blocked the message - great! That means AVG stopped its actions cold.  If it did not, we should have your system inspected.  Please contact the IT Support Center at x4225.
Below is a sample message. The circled areas are items you should scrutinize before acting on messages. 
  • If you hover over the From address - you'll see not only is Walmart misspelled (has two L's), and the actual address is poorly named and even sometimes has a different extension (.com, .net, .org).
  • If you hover over the links (not clicking) it shows a completely different web address not related to the subject or material in the message.
  • The fact they use an email address for salutation, versus your actual name on file when you order things online.
  • The fact that the shipping details are not even close to being related to you.
Again, being aware of these kinds of nuances in messages will help further protect you.   Be careful and assume that the message is not legitimate.  Ask yourself basic questions.
  • Do I have a Walmart/PayPal/eBay account?
  • Did I order something online recently? 
  • Does something about this message seem suspicious or "phishy"?
If you are concerned, your next best course of action is to go directly to the website and log in normal and/or contact their Customer Service via phone (never click on links in these messages to get there).
And as always, please feel free to contact the IT Support Center (989-964-4225) for advice or to report something that is phishy. If you accidentally clicked and became a victim, you should change your passwords immediately and contact the IT Support Center to have your system inspected.
2013 Newsroom An example of the exploited email.
2013 Newsroom An example of the exploit when hovered.

October 24, 2012

BRL travels to SFN

The members of the Brain Research Lab at Saginaw Valley State University traveled to New Orleans, La for the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience ( While there the students were able to meet with and learn about neuroscience from experts from around the world. In addition, the students presented (5 posters) the research they worked on over the summer at the annual Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (

Front Row (L-R): Justin Jacqmain (PSY), Jake Dunkerson (HS/OT), Jennica Young (HS), Maddy Searles (HS), Katalin Geeck (PSY), Tim Pionk (PSY)
Back Row (L-R): Evan Nudi (PSY), Dr. Charles Weaver (HS), David Mudd (PSY), Dr. Jeff Smith (HS), Kasey Moritz (PSY), Bob Underly (PSY)

September 3, 2012

BRL students attend SFN

The Society for Neuroscience ( 41st Annual meeting was held in Washington DC in November of 2011. (from left to right) Bob Underly (Psychology), Jon Gallagher (Pre-med), David Mudd (Psychology), Jake Dunkerson (MS-OT), Sarah Fluharty (Psychology), and Kasey Moritz (Psychology) were able to attend symposia, poster session, vendor row (SWAG!) during their four-day stay in DC. Jon, Jake, Dave, and Sarah also presented their poster at the FUN poster session.

September 3, 2012

BRL student wins 2nd place at National Meeting

Jon Gallagher placed second in the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience / German Graduate Schools of Neuroscience Poster Award annual competition. To be eligible for this award, the nominee must currently be an undergraduate student. Each nominee must be sponsored by a FUN Member whose dues are current. Each sponsor may nominate only one student. For a poster to be considered, it must have been accepted for presentation by the nominee at the FUN Social and Poster Session at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting. The posters are judged on methodological approach, degree of difficulty, solidity/verifiability of data, contribution to "new knowledge", design and layout of the poster, and the ability of the student to answer questions regarding the project.

We are also pleased to announce that Jon was also accepted into the MSU-COM medical program.

May 26, 2012

Sarah Fluharty wins SRCI

Sarah Fluharty, a psychology major from Sandusky, will receive $9,968 for her research on traumatic brain injury in rats. She will carry out her research at SVSU's Brain Research Lab, using rats as models to test the impact of an enriched environment for the recovery of head trauma. Fluharty writes that "rats are the preferred model for testing brain injuries because of their similar brain structure and organization" compared to humans. She hopes to present her findings at several conferences and ultimately submit a paper on the subject to scholarly journals.

Winning Student Research and Creativity Institute proposals were chosen through a competitive selection process.

March 26, 2012

The Brain research Lab opens at SVSU

The new laboratory at SVSU is now open. Almost 3000 square feet of space dedicated to providing opportunities for students to be involved in all aspects of research into neuroplasticity, brain injury, and degeneration. Within the lab, there are several specialized spaces to allow for all aspects of neuroscience to be explored.

Specialized spaces include...

The Wet Lab: that is fully equipped for cell and histological procedures. Some of the equipment includes C02 incubators, -80 freezer, centrifuge, invert microscope, fume hoods, tissue embedding workstation, tissue processor, histology station, automated slide staining system.

Microscopy Suite: An important aspect of the work we do revolves around verifying the changes we see at the behavioral level with changes we see at the cellular level. The cornerstone of these activities will be a brand new, state of the art, confocal microscope. This system, the Olympus FV10i system produces amazing images, includes high level analysis software, and is really pretty easy to use (especially compared to traditional confocal systems). The system is completely software driven and allows for undergraduates (the system is very durable) to participate in all aspects of the analysis of the tissue. In addition we will also have a traditional light/fluorescence microscopy system.

Behavioral Testing Suite: A large, multi-use space which will include five computer controlled operant conditioning stations, five activity chambers, video tracking system, Morris water maze, Barnes maze, Gemini avoidance system, Staircase task, Roto-rod system, and a SR-lab system.

The Procedure Room: A state of the art surgery room that allows for several surgical procedures to be performed. We will have the resources to perform multiple types of procedures allowing for a myriad of questions to be explored.

The Cage Washing Room: Doesn't sound like this is too exciting of a space...well, ask any of my former students, they will be very jealous! Usually the cage washers are the students that work in the laboratory, instead, we have equipment to help take on that burden! A large amount of space and equipment have been invested in a nearly automated system to allow for less time required to the management of working with small animals and more time to be focused on the science.

May 11, 2011

Kasey Moritz wins SRCI

Kasey Moritz, a psychology major from Saginaw, will receive $7,326.10 for his research on the effects of post-injury environments on depression and anxiety in rats following traumatic brain injury. Moritz’s study is designed to investigate the effect of an enriched environment on depression and anxiety on a rat model in order to interpret experimental findings and transfer them to humans. Moritz plans to present his findings through multiple conferences and potential publication.

Winning Student Research and Creativity Institute proposals were chosen through a competitive selection process.

More information about the SRCI program can be found on the SRCI website (

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