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50 tips on staying safe online during the silly season

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

Shopping online

As we gear up for the summer holiday season, more people have been driven to do their holiday shopping online. However, shoppers should exercise extreme caution when doing so and be on the lookout for potential scams.

This PDF contains 50 tips to help you stay safe online.

50 tips to protect yourself online

Generative AI: An Ethically Guided Approach to Architectural Decision-Making

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

Generating Artificial Intelligence art on computer

By Dr Lianne Keiller, Manager: IT (Learning Technology Systems)

The IT Division recognised the impact that Generative AI had on the Higher Education community at large with the release of ChatGPT late last year. As a result, the Generative AI Guild was convened in March 2023. Generative AI can learn from existing artifacts to generate new, realistic artifacts (at scale) that reflect the characteristics of the training data but don’t repeat it. It can produce a variety of novel content, such as images, video, music, speech, text, software code and product designs.

This guild was coordinated by the Chief Architect in the IT Division and Chair of Computational Thinking in the Department of Information Science to consider a possible position paper for Stellenbosch University. With members from Faculties, various Divisions and the ICT organisations across the University, discussions and collaborative workgroups engaged on a number of issues.

These discussions included topics such as:

  • Generative AI Opportunities
  • Training and Education
  • Ethical, Plagiarism and other concerns
  • Impact on other services e.g., Turnitin
  • Privacy Security and Intellectual Property
  • Direct and Indirect Risks
  • Policy
  • Knowledge centre around topic
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Technology Roadmap
  • Output identification human vs machine
  • Architecture Guardrails

The work of the sub-groups identified the complexity and rapid development of guidelines and conversations across the University regarding Generative AI. The output of the guild was a discussion document that could support the extensive efforts on this topic by the rest of the University community around Generative AI.

Why is an ethically-guided approach needed for Generative AI Architecture?

Stellenbosch University has committed to ethical behaviour, pledging to:

  • conduct our work in a manner that demonstrates excellence,
  • always treat our stakeholders equitably, and with respect and compassion, and
  • be accountable for the execution and consequences of all our actions.

It is therefore imperative that the ICT Architecture and decisions enable stakeholders to maintain and live the ethical principles required for a Thriving Stellenbosch University. Architectural decisions should therefore:

  • support the use of Generative AI technology in Teaching-Learning-Assessment, Research and Administration
  • adopt processes that are representative of accountability and excellence in Teaching-Learning-Assessment, Research and Administration
  • enable a practice of user-driven architecture that encourages innovative and ethical practice in Teaching-Learning-Assessment, Research and Administration.

The core underpinning principles that guide decision-making for Architecture in this context is therefore accountability and transparency that aligns with the Strategic Framework and goals of Stellenbosch University.

Generative AI ethically informed guardrails apply to the Teaching & Learning, and Research value stream capabilities of the Institution. These guardrails can inform the work of the ICT function at the University in supporting the enabling capabilities related to Information & Communication Technology Management, Information Management, and Governance, Risk & Compliance.

While each stakeholder group considers various factors in the support and use of Generative AI, the guild has formulated a set of guiding principles to inform decision-making around the adoption of this technology. These principles will aid the ICT function in framing requests made by the SU community regarding licenses, recommendations for new technology within this field and further discussion on the use of Generative AI at SU.

  1. Institutional data privacy must be prioritised.
  2. Transparency in the use of Generative AI is valued and clearly identified.
  3. Personally identifiable information use and sharing via Generative AI must respect and adhere to POPIA.
  4. Excellence in the behaviour of SU stakeholders requires accuracy and integrity in the academic and professional outputs that include the use of Generative AI.
  5. Accountability for the input and output of information into Generative AI remains with the individual stakeholder but is representative of the Organisation and impacts its reputation.

Update your software

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

One of the easiest ways to protect accounts and information is to keep software and applications updated. Updates are periodically released to fix software problems and provide security patches for known vulnerabilities. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, don’t hit the “remind me later” button. Take action to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Here are 4 easy-to-remember tips to keep in mind when it comes to updates.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

In the context of a higher education environment, where the scope of Stellenbosch University’s online activities continues to expand, it’s become commonplace for the average user to manage an ever-increasing number of passwords. Gone are the days when just a handful would suffice; now, we may find ourselves juggling upwards of 100 unique passwords, especially when practicing strong password security. To mitigate the challenges of remembering these numerous access codes and bolster our accounts’ security, we strongly recommend using password managers.

Our guidance and suggestions

Selecting a weak or easily guessable password is akin to locking the door but carelessly leaving the key in the lock. Malicious actors, including computer hackers, can swiftly exploit such passwords. However, the good news is that employing strong passwords constitutes one of the simplest and most effective measures to safeguard your accounts, thereby reducing the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information, data, finances, and even your personal identity.

Enhance your passwords with the following strategies

1. Length matters: Passwords that are at least 14 characters long offer the highest level of security. This is also a requirement of the new password regulation.

2. Complexity is key: Create passwords using a random combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If you need to remember your password, consider crafting a memorable “passphrase” comprising 5 to 7 unrelated words. Feel free to inject creativity into your spelling or incorporate numbers and symbols.

3. One for each: Ensure that each account employs a unique password.

Admittedly, it’s virtually impossible to remember long and unique passwords for the myriad accounts in our academic and personal lives. Rather than resorting to the risky practice of jotting them down or reusing weak passwords, we advocate the use of a password manager.

Password managers are designed to generate intricate and one-of-a-kind passwords on your behalf. They securely store all of these passwords in one central location and promptly alert you to instances of weak, reused, or compromised passwords. Moreover, they can automatically input your login credentials into websites and applications through a secure browser plugin. The only password you need to remember is the master password used to access the password manager itself.

(Pro Tip: Craft a memorable, lengthy “passphrase” as mentioned earlier, and never commit your master password to writing.)

Key statistics to consider

It’s worth noting that in our educational community, only 33% of individuals have adopted the practice of creating unique passwords for all their accounts. Additionally, a mere 18% have availed themselves of the security offered by a password manager. These statistics underscore the importance of promoting and implementing strong password practices and the use of password management tools within our academic environment.

Password Regulations


User Guide: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) with Google Authenticator app

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is an authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource such as an application (e.g., SUNFin and SUNStudent), an online account, or a VPN. MFA is a core component of a strong identity and access management (IAM) policy.

SU has implemented the Google Authenticator App method to authenticate with your Huawei mobile device or any other mobile device that does not have the Microsoft Authentication app available in their app store.

In this document we show you how to register your device: 

MFA with Google Auth app – How to guide


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