The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Brandeis GPS Student Experience (page 1 of 3)

How to “master” online graduate school over the summer

From kindergarten through undergrad (and even some graduate programs), students around the world look forward to getting outside and enjoying the summer sun.  For part-time, online graduate students however, “school’s out for summer” doesn’t necessarily apply — and this can be a very good thing.

Non-traditional graduate programs will often offer summer terms in addition to the standard fall and spring semesters. These options allow students who are working full-time the opportunity to complete their graduate programs even more quickly.

Brandeis GPS offers four 10-week sessions each year, with classes beginning in July, October, January and April. The upcoming July 2018 session, which is technically called Fall 1, runs from July 18 through Sept. 25.

Computer and drink at the beach

Some students may balk at a course that overlaps with scheduled vacation and travel, but taking classes from July to September doesn’t have to hinder any of your exciting summer plans. GPS courses are fully online and asynchronous, meaning that students can access their coursework from any location and timezone. Here are some tips for balancing your course load with your summer beach trips, European excursions and mountain views:

  • Plan as far in advance as you can and be realistic. Read through the course’s syllabus right away to take note of your big assignments, final projects, and exams. Check your calendar to see if you have any important events or travel coming up during the term so you can manage your time around them. If you know you’re spending a week away or have a particularly busy weekend coming up, plan to complete your readings or discussion posts as early as you can. Be honest with yourself about how much time you’ll need for your coursework each week, and build a schedule that’s feasible for you.Sunset over the water
  • Take advantage of technology. Your online courses are mobile-friendly. Keep your mobile devices charged, and take advantage of courses that offer textbooks you can download to your favorite e-reader.
  • Don’t be afraid to disconnect. Summer travel will often involve long plane, train, and car rides with little to no WiFi access. With some advanced planning and downloading, you can take advantage of these long blocks of time to catch up on your coursework, so when you arrive at your destination, you can relax and enjoy yourself.

Good luck to everyone taking our Fall 1 courses, starting in July! For more information on GPS courses or graduate programs, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or check out our website.

Brandeis GPS student to receive national award for achievements in health and information technology

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will award GPS Health and Medical Informatics student Jill Shuemaker with the Richard P. Covert, PhD, LFHIMSS Scholarship for Management Systems, a national award recognizing her contributions to the field of health and information technology in 2016.

The award coincides with Shuemaker’s emergence as a national expert in health and medical informatics. As a registered nurse with Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Shuemaker developed a patient-centered, analytic, teamwork-based approach that single-handedly ensures her organization’s electronic quality measure program fully meets federal regulatory requirements. She also advocates on a national level for advancing patient care through sound measurement design, implementation of quality program changes and vendor accountability.

Jill Shuemaker

Jill Shuemaker, a Brandeis GPS Health and Medical Informatics student

“HIMSS is proud to honor individuals that have made significant contributions to our mission of improving health through the use of information technology,” JoAnn W. Klinedinst, M.Ed., CPHIMS, PMP, DES, FHIMSS, vice president, professional development, HIMSS North America said in a press release. “Congratulations to all of the award and scholarship recipients for their achievements and for their skills and expertise focused on improving health and healthcare through the best use of IT.”

Shuemaker is currently enrolled in the Health and Medical Informatics graduate program at Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies. As a part-time, fully online student, Shuemaker continues to advance her career as she works to improve and transform the healthcare industry.

In addition to her work as an RN, Shuemaker is a Certified Professional in Health Information Management Systems (CPHIMS) and Co-Chair of HIMSS National Quality and Safety Committee, where she interacts directly with clinicians, technical staff, and even federal officials on a routine basis.  She will officially receive her award later this month at the HIMSS annual Awards Gala in Orlando, Florida.

About Brandeis GPS

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to bringing an exceptional graduate education experience to adult learners across the country and the world. The division’s catalog of 12 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and certificates represents today’s most innovative industries, offering students opportunities to advance in management, technology, data informatics, marketing and other fields. With small classes, a convenient and flexible approach to online learning, and faculty who are leaders in their industries, GPS fosters a community that is mindful of its students’ professional, academic and personal commitments. As a leading research university and member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Brandeis fosters self-motivated, curious students ready to engage new experiences and global endeavors. The university is widely recognized for the excellence of its teaching, the quality and diversity of its student body and the outstanding research of its faculty.

GPS student wins big at Brandeis Innovation’s SPARKTank competition

Brandeis Bioinformatics student Donald Son and his team of entrepreneurs took third place in last Sunday’s university-wide SPARKTank competition, an annual live-pitch event hosted by Brandeis Innovation.

Competing against 12 other groups seeking seed funding to bring their startups to market, Son’s team received $10,000 to further their work on Green Herb Analytics (HerbDx). The California-based facility uses analytical chemistry, software integration and medicinal cannabinoid biology to provide quality assurance lab testing and ensure that the product entering the market is safe for human consumption. The startup also seeks to establish an innovative, cutting-edge brand with affordable prices.

While Son himself does not use cannabis, he has a personal connection to unregulated supplements and medicines and their impact on public health.

Brandeis Innovation SPARKTank - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog“I take herbs to manage my chronic fatigue syndrome and was initially concerned about what I was putting into my body,” said Son. “During my own research, I came across cannabis just as it was being voted on for recreational use in California. I felt the need to ensure the safety of this product to the consumer.”

HerbDx plans to put its seed funding toward a small lab space, a mass spectrometer to optimize pesticide testing, and to advance production and marketing efforts. Outreach efforts will include an increased digital and social media presence, partnerships with special interest groups, and visibility at trade shows and conferences.

About SPARKTank
SPARKTank is a live pitch event where Brandeis entrepreneurs compete for seed funding in front of a live audience. Thirteen teams comprised of Brandeis students, faculty and staff pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of industry judges with the hopes of receiving a portion of the $50,000 grant pool. The pitches included startups, technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, which demonstrated the extensive breadth of entrepreneurial spirit at Brandeis University.

How to be a Productive Online Student

Online master’s degrees at accredited universities have become increasingly popular over recent years. Many programs, like the ones offered at Brandeis GPS, cater to professionals who are working full time and are seeking a degree to move the needle on their career. Truly asynchronous programs – where students aren’t required to log into a class at a certain time – allow students to set their own schedule when it comes to their academic study.  But for some online learners, the lack of structure can be a challenge. Below are some tips to help you achieve the perfect work-life-school balance while pursuing an online degree.

Schedule Your Time
Schedule your school time just like you would schedule an appointment or meeting. Consistency can be key. And don’t forget to get creative with your study time. Have a long train ride as part of your commute? Take care of your weekly readings while you ride. Drive to work? See if your text book has an audio version and listen in the car. Find a regular time to do your coursework, and soon it will become a part of your daily routine.

Find Your Place of Productivity
Ask yourself when you are most productive. Perhaps it’s on that long train ride where you easily focus. Are you most productive on Sunday afternoons while sitting in your local library? Do you enjoy staying in your pajamas and doing work from your kitchen table? There is no right answer as everyone has different zones of productivity. Make sure the space where you want to work is available and distraction-free in advance. You will get everything done a lot faster if you go in knowing this is your time and place for coursework.

Take a Break
If you have an assignment deadline approaching, you may be tempted to come home after a long day of work and open your computer to get your schoolwork done as quickly as you can. Don’t do that – you want to put your best foot forward! Separate your job from your coursework, take some time to relax, go to the gym, or eat a snack. Keep your brain power focused on what you’re doing so you can achieve results that make you proud.

Participate and Stay Engaged
In an online classroom, it is easy to keep quiet and only participate when necessary. Don’t take that approach: you’re here to learn, after all! Schools like GPS intentionally offer small classes to foster engagement and collaboration among your peers and instructors.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to be a productive online student, and don’t forget to reach out to your advisor or instructor for guidance.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

Why your work experience can make or break your grad school application

Faces of GPS | Rebecca Weiss

Rebecca WeissWhether you’re fresh out of your undergraduate studies or have been working in your field for many years, your professional experience is an incredibly important piece of the Graduate Professional Studies application process. We ask our applicants to provide a resume (or curriculum vitae) and letter of recommendation because these documents not only help tell your story, but they show us that you have the background and expertise to excel in our programs.

Tips for making your resume pop

The admissions committee wants to see your work experience, skills, and strengths. Here’s how to make your resume pop:

  • Highlight your skills: Even if you haven’t been working in your field for all that long, it is important to include any skills that are relevant to the program you are applying for. For example, do you know any programming languages? Is there a particular social media tool you have a lot of personal or professional experience with?
  • Provide detail: Have you ever been told to limit your resume to a one-page maximum? We want to see your accomplishments! Don’t limit yourself because you’re afraid of taking up too much space.
  • Previous coursework: Have you recently taken a course that is relevant to your program of interest? What about a professional development course and/or training session?
  • Previous work experience: Did you take the lead on a major project at a previous job? Did you head a research project? Don’t forget to include details about your previous work experience.

If you are not sure you included everything, ask a co-worker to read your resume over and make some suggestions.

<<start your GPS application>>

Deciding who should submit your letter of recommendation

Another important part of the application process is the letter of recommendation. We ask that you submit one letter of recommendation from an employer or supervisor. Here are some tips when deciding who should write your letter:

  • Previous supervisor or boss: Did you just start a new job? Are you currently not working? Don’t worry, you can submit a letter recommendation from a previous employer or supervisor. You can address your current work situation in your statement of goals.
  • Recent graduate: Did you recently graduate? Are you still searching for a job? Ask someone who supervised you on a research project to write your letter of recommendation. Provide a letter of recommendation from a supervisor where you did an internship. If you volunteer, ask the person who oversees the volunteers to write your letter.
  • Submit two letters: Do you have a supervisor and a manager who can speak to your different skills? While only one letter is required for admission, feel free to ask them both to submit a letter of recommendation.

The admissions committee understands that we have a diverse group of applicants. Our applicants range from recent graduates to those who are many years into their career. The most important part of the recommendation letter is that it is written by someone who has supervised you or seen you work as part of a team.

As a reminder, the deadline to apply for the spring term is Dec. 13. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the application process. I also encourage you to reach out to Christie Barone if you have a specific question about your program of interest. You can find all our contact information here.

Rebecca Weiss is the Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment at GPS, and with her four years of experience in the office, she has a lot of great advice to offer prospective GPS students.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Conquering your application to graduate school

Faces of GPS | Rebecca Weiss

Rebecca WeissOne of the greatest parts of my job is that I am always working with applicants, no matter the time of year. While my counterparts in admissions offices at other universities may have one busy season leading up to their fall application deadline, here at GPS, we have rolling admissions throughout the year and three entry points: fall, spring and summer.

What sets GPS’s admissions process apart is the holistic view that we take when evaluating candidates. Since all our applicants are part-time students and full-time working professionals, we do not focus solely on the typical set of numbers that are associated with graduate school admissions: GPA, GRE, GMAT, school rank, etc. I would like to share a few other factors about what makes GPS unique – these are things that folks should definitely keep in mind as they’re considering pursuing a master’s degree:

  • No GMAT or GRE! If you decide to apply to GPS, do not worry about these exams: we do not require them for admission. We don’t feel like they speak to the nature of what is required to excel in our programs.
  • Experience matters. While some applicants may have studied an undergraduate major relevant to their desired graduate program, many have not. Make sure to highlight your skills, certifications and expertise in your application! (Please note that some programs may have specific requirements, which you can see by clicking on your program of interest here.)
  • Show *and* tell us. The statement of goals is an important piece of our application. We want to know why you are interested in your desired program, what experiences led you down this path, and the goals you hope to achieve through your desired program.
  • Why wait? We have rolling admissions, so while Dec. 13 is our spring 2017 deadline, once your application is complete, we provide you with a decision within 2-3 weeks. This gives you ample time to choose spring courses, connect with your student advisor, and plan out your degree.

<<Start your GPS application>>

I love speaking with our applicants, so please feel free to contact me over email, phone, or if you live in the Boston area, in person! Applying for a master’s degree is a big decision, so I am happy to talk you through the steps and answer any questions you have.

Rebecca Weiss is the Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment at GPS, and with her four years of experience in the office, she has a lot of great advice to offer prospective GPS students.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Heather Ryder

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

GraduDadnMe-169x300ate Professional Studies: I’m here with Heather Ryder, a student in our Master of Science in Information Technology Management program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Heather Ryder: Thank you! My name is Heather Ryder. I’m originally from Freeport, Maine, and I currently live in Newton, Massachusetts.

GPS: Tell me a little about your day job.

HR: I work at HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company in Cambridge. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I manage our help desk team. We have a team of six people here in the U.S., and we support our employees all over the globe. I also do some system administration, and act as a liaison between different departments on projects involving IT.

GPS: Great. Let’s switch gears a bit and talk more about why you decided to go back to school.

HR: I kind of went back and forth with the decision for a while. I wanted to continue learning outside of the workplace, and I had just moved into a managerial role at work — that was something very new to me so I wanted to build my skillsets in that area. No one in my family has attended graduate school and I have a huge family (my dad is one of five, my mom is one of six).

GPS: What made you choose Brandeis over some of the other schools you looked at?

HR: I was really looking for a program that supported online learning, it’s so much easier for my schedule. Sometimes I work really long hours depending on what we’re doing, or I have nightly calls with Sydney, Singapore and some of our offices on the other side of the world. I was looking for classes that supported those types of hours.

Brandeis stuck out because Janice, my student advisor, was just so incredible with helping me through the registration process. And the fact that I could take a course prior to actually applying to see if it was a good fit for me was awesome. I’m only taking two classes per year right now, just because of work and everything, and Janice has been great about making sure I don’t miss my required courses and setting me up for success. That was something really important to me because I’m going on this journey that nobody in my family has gone on before, and it’s so valuable to have someone give me advice on being a working professional who is also in school. Her advice is so hands on point and I absolutely love that.

GPS: What do you hope to gain professionally with the degree?

HR: As I mentioned, HubSpot has international offices that we’ve opened over the course of the past three years. This is a huge area of growth for us, we really want to go global as a company. No one on our team has a lot of experience when it comes to taking an IT team global. How do you handle communications, organizational structure changes, management and leadership? I realized there’s so much expertise that I don’t have, so many things I’m going up against that I have never experienced before. A lot of the courses in my program specifically tackle these challenges. I’m really excited about all these changes on my team, but I know that I could really benefit from talking to other professionals who have gone through a similar process.

GPS: Do you have anything to expand on in terms of personal goals or how you think this degree will fit into your life outside of the office?

HR: When I first started at HubSpot I was incredibly shy. Now that I’m in a management role and help motivate people on my team, that’s like a new world for me. Just working with other professionals in my classes has helped me come out of my shell. They’ve really helped me figure out how to balance my personality versus the personalities of other individuals. This is helpful not only at work, but with personal relationships, too. I also want to show the young women in my family (my cousins who are much younger than me), that the option of getting a master’s degree is available to them. And show them that they can really do anything: they can go to grad school or undergraduate school, and work, and start a family.

GPS: Why do you think that you’re going to be successful in completing this program?

HR: Hands down, it’s because of the program’s flexibility. As I mentioned, my advisor has been great about keeping me on track with my courses. And because we have five years to finish the program, I know I don’t have to worry if something major comes up at work or in my personal life. Right now, I’m planning my wedding for this fall, so I know that I can skip a term if I need to.

GPS: Can you think of an example of any course assignments that have directly impacted anything that you’re doing at work?

HR: Absolutely! In one of my most recent classes, Strategic Information Technologies, we wrote a paper about the pros and cons of software that we want to implement into our work environment. I used the format covered in my paper to look at six different processes we’re currently using at HubSpot, I measured the benefits of each technology, and evaluated the benefits of each one. That helped us move from six knowledge-based software that we were using to three.

GPS: Tell me more about your hobbies outside of school or work.

HR: I have a six-year-old stepdaughter that I enjoy spending my weekends with. I’m also learning Russian kind of on my own. I love to write and to read, and I play board games and video games to decompress. I also really like to bake and cook, and I love watching baking and cooking shows. So a lot of different options when I have free time!

 

10 Companies Changing Health Care in the Hub

– BostInno, Custom Content Coordinator

Health care is a hot topic across the nation. Evolving policy and advancing technology have entirely transformed how we seek, receive, and pay for medical care. While people in every corner of the country are coping with these changes, Boston is firmly at the forefront of the next frontier in health care. Boasting world-class hospitals and a booming tech scene, Boston has become a crucible for health care innovation. Companies here in the Hub are conducting pioneering research, developing advanced technologies, and discovering solutions to the world’s most urgent health care challenges.

From detecting diseases to improving patient-physician communications, these companies specialize in a diverse range of medical services, but they all ultimately strive to improve health care for all.

Check out ten of the top companies changing health care here in the Hub. While these all might be notable, award-winning organizations, they still only scratch the surface of Boston’s booming health care scene. Feel free to share impressive health care innovators we missed in the comments below.

1. Partners HealthCare

Partners HealthCare

Founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners HealthCare is a not-for-profit healthcare system and the state’s largest healthcare provider. Partners is deeply committed to innovation and leadership. The integrated healthcare system is constantly devising new ways to advance the industry, especially when it comes to applying technology to patient care. Partners was one of the earliest adopters of health information technology including electronic medical records. This year, they are rolling out their Partners eCare initiative which will implement an integrated, electronic health information system at all institutions across the Partners network by 2017. A division of Partners, Boston’s Center for Connected Health was also the first to launch “connected health” programs where patients monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and other biometrics using a smartphone device that automatically transmits data to an electronic medical record in the Partners’ database.

2. Nanobiosym

Nanobiosym

Cambridge-based Nanobiosym creates highly scalable, portable, disruptive technology aiming to solve our current healthcare crisis. The innovation center recently rocked the industry with their product GeneRADAR. The iPad-sized mobile device can test for AIDS and HIV, E.Coli, tuberculosis, diabetes and even some types of cancer in mere minutes, with only a drop of blood or saliva. The device delivers results faster and cheaper than current systems. Nanobiosym is currently working with Partners in Health to roll out GeneRADAR in the organization’s clinics around the nation.

3. Iora Health

Iora Health

Iora Health is on a mission to reform the existing healthcare model. Frustrated by the current system’s flaws and the growing gap between costs and quality, Iora has been building better models producing improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost. Founded in Cambridge by two physicians, Iora offers employers healthcare for employees on a per-person basis rather than through insurance. After raising $12 million last year, Iora continues to open practices and reinvent primary care.

4. PatientPing

PatientPing

Emergency room visits are rarely smooth sailing for the patient or the physicians. Patients must seek treatment from unfamiliar hospital staff who must scramble to piece together patients’ medical history. One of Boston’s newest health tech startups, PatientPing aims to solve this problem by sending real-time notifications to healthcare providers when their patients receive ER, hospital and post-acute care. The company plans to eventually scale out to nursing homes to create a comprehensive communication network of healthcare facilities.

5. Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company leading a transformation in cancer care. Their leading edge clinical products, including genomic test Foundation One® and FoundationOne® Heme, have been proven to be among the most accurate, sensitive, and comprehensive tests available. This fully informative genomic profile combined with a “patients first” approach empowers them to match patients with targeted therapies and meaningfully advance the field of routine cancer care. Most recently, the Cambridge company launched FoundationOne® CareLine, offering personalized case management services to patients who are uninsured, underinsured or face other challenges.

6. CareCloud

CareCloud

The future of the health care is in the cloud and CareCloud is the company to prove it. CareCloud is a leading national provider of cloud-based electronic medical record and billing services, supporting 3,700 providers in 45 states. The user-friendly, streamlined system enables physicians to deliver efficient, high-quality care, plus plug into a fully integrated digital healthcare ecosystem from any device. CareCloud has been expanding rapidly since its inception and raised $25.5 million last year.

7. athenahealth

athenahealth

Watertown-based healthcare software firm athenahealth is a pioneer of the electronic medical record and on a mission to modernize the industry. Since its founding, athenahealth has expanded and diversified its cloud-based services to include medical billing and practice management, patient communication, and order transmission services. The company also strives to spur healthcare innovation through their the program “More Disruption Please,” supporting entrepreneurs, health care IT companies, and thought leaders who want to change the status quo in health care.

8. MC10

MC10

MC10 creates the high-performance medical electronics that are virtually invisible, conformable, and wearable. These cutting-edge devices can serve to protect our troops, treat heart arrhythmias, and monitor sleeping babies. Among their award-winning innovations is the Reebok CHECKLIGHT, a sports impact indicator that measures the severity of blows to the head.

9.Wellframe

Wellframe

Wellframe builds intelligent systems to re-engineer care delivery, essentially equipping patients with a “care GPS” to help them navigate their health challenges. The mobile app gives patients personalized wellness to-do lists to help them stay on top of managing their disease. It also integrates a cloud-hosted electronic medical record. Patients can now leave the hospital with a care plan in their pocket, monitoring their progress and instructing them how to deal with their condition day-by-day. By empowering patients to take control of their own care, Wellframe helps minimize costs. The company recently raised $1.5 million and is continuing to transform the prevailing care model.

10. ZappRx

ZappRx

ZappRx is another mobile innovator transforming the health care status quo. The “Uber for medicine” company strives to simplify the management of prescription payments by connecting the three stakeholders – patients, pharmacists, and medical providers – on a single e-platform. The mobile app cuts out the paperwork and the delays that often accompany the prescription process. The Cambridge-based company has secured a total of $2 million in funding to further develop the platform to fit the speciality pharmacy market.

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The Balance of Life and Learning

Tom Burt is a recent graduate of our Master of Science in Project and Program Management Program. He is currently the Administrative Contracting Officer for GSA/FAS/Supplier Management. Below is his story about his journey through e-learning at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

“I always knew I would have to go back to school.  My father presource-schedulingresented a perfect example of that—nearing the end of his career, he had been unable to advance any further in his field because he lacked a four-year degree.  For my generation, I equate that to not
having a graduate degree.  Not wanting to be held back from a promotion, going back to school seemed a necessary evil; however, it was a terrifying thought.  Travelling to classes, giving up nights and weekends, simply finding the time to work on assignments—there was no way I would be able to do all that.  Then a co-worker told me about Brandeis GPS, and all my fears went away.

Online Learning made it all possible for me.  I bought my first home about the same time I started my Program and Project Management degree; due to the nature of the program, I was able to balance the challenges of purchasing a home while keeping up with studies.  Also thanks to online learning, I was able to take vacations during semesters!  On ski trips Slimmedto the western US with friends each year, I started every day with a couple hours of school work (and gallons of coffee) before hitting the slopes.  I also remember a trip to Italy for a family wedding that coincided with Professional Communication.  Had I been enrolled in a traditional classroom-based program, I may not have been able to make the trip; instead, I was posting discussion responses while riding the Rome to Florence train, using the onboard wireless, all while traveling at 250 kilometers per hour!  Grazie Brandeis!  Finally, in the last couple semesters, I was able to attend classes while training for an Ironman triathlon (as much as twenty hours of training per week) while also managing to not get fired from my job!

Graduate school does not have to be a life-consuming event, nor should it be.  There is much to be enjoyeBurtofficeslimmedd in life, such as home-ownership, vacations, and the pursuit of personal goals.  These opportunities absolutely can occur, even while maintaining a career and a family.  Not having to sacrifice other opportunities meant everything to me (and also meant the courses flew by in no time!).  Brandeis GPS was and is the key to this ever-important balance of life and learning.  Having achieved this milestone, I can now start
looking forward in my career, confident that I have the educational qualifications to support my endeavors. ”

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So What Is the Risk of Mobile Malware?

By: Derek Brink

Originally from: https://blogs.rsa.com/risk-mobile-malware/

Obvious, or oblivious? Short-term predictions eventually tend to make us look like one or the other—as Art Coviello astutely noted in making his own predictions for the security industry in 2014—depending on how they actually turn out. (Long-term predictions, however, which require an entirely different level of thinking, are evaluated against a different scale. For example, check out the many uncannily accurate predictions Isaac Asimov made for the 2014 World’s Fair, from his reflections on the just-concluded 1964 World’s Fair.)

Art’s short-term prediction about mobile malware:

Chapa NO MALWARE2014 is the tipping point year of mobile malware: As businesses provide greater mobile access to critical business applications and sensitive data, and consumers increasingly adopt mobile banking, it is easy to see that mobile malware will rapidly grow in sophistication and ubiquity in 2014. We’ve already seen a strong uptick in both over the past few months and expect that this is just the beginning of a huge wave. We will see some high-profile mobile breaches before companies and consumers realize the risk and take appropriate steps to mitigate it. Interestingly, the Economist recently featured an article suggesting such fears were overblown. It is probably a good idea to be ready just the same.

The Economist article Art references (which is based on an earlier blog) asserts that “surprisingly little malware has found its way into handsets. . . smartphones have turned out to be much tougher to infect than laptops and desktop PCs.” (Ironically, the Economist also publishes vendor-sponsored content such as How Mobile Risks Are Pushing Companies Towards Better Security. I suppose that’s one way to beat the obvious or oblivious game: Place a bet on both sides.)

RSA’s Online Fraud Resource Center provides some terrific fact-based insights on the matter, including Behind the Scenes of a Fake Token Mobile App Operation.

But the legitimate question remains: What is the risk of malware on mobile? Let’s focus here on enterprise risks, and set aside the consumer risks that Art also raised as a topic for another blog.

Keep in mind the proper definition of “risk”—one of the root causes of miscommunication internet-security1among security professionals today, as I have noted in a previous blog—which is “the likelihood that a vulnerability will be exploited, and the corresponding business impact.” If we’re not talking about probabilities and magnitudes, we’re not talking about risk.

Regarding the probability of malware infecting mobile devices:

  • The Economist‘s article builds on findings from an academic paper published by researchers from Georgia Tech, along with a recent PhD student who is now the Chief Scientist at spin-off security vendor Damballa. Their core hypothesis is that the activities of such malware—including propagation and update of malicious code, command and control communications with infected devices, and transmission of stolen data—will be discernible in network traffic.
  • From three months of analysis, they found that about 3,500 mobile devices (out of a population of 380 million) were infected—roughly 0.001%, or 1 in 100,000.
  • Compare this to the computers cleaned per mille (CCM) metric regularly reported by Microsoft: For every 1,000 computers scanned by the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, CCM is the number of computers that needed to be cleaned after they were scanned. For 1H2012, the infection rates per 1,000 computers with no endpoint protection was between 11.6 and 13.6 per month.

All of this nets out to say that currently, mobile endpoints are three orders of magnitude less likely to be infected by malware than traditional endpoints.

But doesn’t this conflict with other published research about mobile malware? For example, I’ve previously blogged about an analysis of 13,500 free applications for Android devices, published in October 2012 by university researchers in Germany:

  • Of 100 apps selected for manual audit and analysis, 41 were vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks due to various forms of SSL misuse.
  • Of these 41 apps, the researchers captured credentials for American Express, Diners Club, PayPal, bank accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live ID, Box, WordPress, remote control servers, arbitrary email accounts, and IBM Sametime, among others.
  • Among the apps with confirmed vulnerabilities against MITM attacks, the cumulative installed base is up to 185 million users.

In another blog, I’ve noted that mobile applications have a more complex attack surface mobile-appthan traditional web applications—in addition to server-side code, they also deal with client-side code and (multiple) network channels. The impact of these threats is often multiplied, as in the common case of support for functions that were previously server-only (e.g., offline access). This makes security for mobile apps even more difficult for developers to address—mobile technology is not as well known, development teams are not as well educated, and testing teams are harder to keep current.

Meanwhile, malware on mobile is indeed becoming more prevalent: Currently over 350,000 instances from 300 malware families. It is also becoming more sophisticated—e.g., by obfuscating code to evade static and dynamic analysis, establishing device administration privileges to install additional code, and spreading code using Bluetooth, according to the IBM X-Force 2013 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report.

But threats, vulnerabilities, and exploits are not risks. What would be obvious to predict is this: The likelihood of exploits based on mobile malware will increase dramatically in 2014—point Art.

The other half of the risk equation is the business impact of mobile exploits. From the enterprise perspective, we would have to estimate the cost of exploits such as compromise of sensitive corporate datasurveillance of key employees, and impersonation of key corporate identities—e.g., as part of attacks aimed at social networks or cloud platforms, where the mobile exploits are the means to a much bigger and more lucrative end. It seems quite reasonable to predict that we’ll see some high-profile, high-impact breaches along these lines in 2014—again, point Art.

Obvious or oblivious, you can put me down squarely with Art’s prediction for this one, with the exception that I would say the risk of mobile malware is much more concentrated and targeted than the all users/all devices scenario he seems to suggest.

About the Author:

BA8D94F2924E634831C8CA3D8E7179C7477BBC1Derek E. Brink, CISSP is a Vice President and Research Fellow covering topics in IT Security and IT GRC for Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. He is also a adjunct faculty with Brandeis University, Graduate Professional Studies teaching courses in our Information Security Program. For more blog posts by Derek, please see http://blogs.aberdeen.com/category/it-security/  and http://aberdeen.com/_aberdeen/it-security/ITSA/practice.aspx

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