Cybersecurity Champions: Leading by Example

Cybersecurity Champions make our campus community a little more cyber safe.

The “Cybersecurity Champions” program began in January 2022 with the goal of making our campus community a little more cyber safe.

Champions participate in monthly challenges designed to raise awareness broadly of privacy and cybersecurity issues and more specifically at the University of Illinois.

Participants are asked to encourage their coworkers to complete their online quarterly cybersecurity training, post information, or share information in team spaces with important cybersecurity messages. They also act as eyes and ears and can share questions or concerns related to cybersecurity back to the team at Technology Services.

Erin Metz is a member of the inaugural group of champions. She believes cybersecurity is an issue that she’s happy to help her coworkers with.

“I’m sure we have all been exposed to spam emails, lately more frequently, which is both frustrating and annoying. I’m here to help spread awareness. People of my generation were the first to have the internet. I think in general we have a good idea of what not to click, and I am happy to help others see that too,” she said.

Metz finds videos for the cybersecurity training program informative and funny, and they have been a good jumping off point for engaging others in the office with cybersecurity concepts.

“I particularly liked the training to create unique passwords. That one hit home the most. There was a lot of interest from others in my unit in figuring out how to use real words for passwords that are put together in a way that makes sense to them but are hard for others to figure out. I found that topic created a lot of good conversation,” Metz said.

Metz works in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, where she helps individuals with disabilities make their office work for them so that they can work safely and in the most productive way possible.

“We are in a fairly new office and several units occupy the same floor. We can spend a lot of time going back and forth to other locations within the office and are away from our desks during those times. A cybersecurity goal for our work group was not to leave information out in the open—to lock your computer when you walk away to prevent anyone walking past from seeing it, she said.” That was a simple fix that has made a difference in their level of security.

Metz also pointed out how pleased she was that the report spam button was introduced in Outlook email. “Having that feature is important. And my biggest takeaway is to get others to use that button and to just not click on things that do not look legitimate,” she noted.

Cybersecurity Training Specialist Sandy Bone says the program is geared towards those with no background in computers or cybersecurity. “One of our goals for the program is to engage with people across all of campus,” she said.

The monthly challenges provide ways to learn even more about cybersecurity best practices, share cybersecurity messages with coworkers, and earn prizes.

Champions receive a newsletter that contains their monthly challenge and additional information about things happening with the Cybersecurity Training and Awareness Team and more broadly with privacy and cybersecurity on campus.

Those who complete the challenges receive the month’s incentive giveaway item.

“The giveaways are really nice. And I already mentioned the videos are good. I would recommend that anyone who comes on board with the champions program take more of the training. The videos are short and effective,” Metz added.

Interested in learning more about the 2023 Cybersecurity Champions program? Staff and faculty will see application information in the November 2022 Work Secure newsletter. Or contact Sandy Bone at