College Student Cyber Securitycollege

Colleges and universities are targets of cyber-attacks. Mostly because they store large amounts of personal data like students Social Security numbers, insurance and medical records, and they also house valuable science and technology research. They also face a number of serious security challenges, such as budget restrictions, outdated equipment, a fluctuating and transient workforce and required open network access for students and guests.

Significant cyber intrusions have been reported at Harvard, Penn State, Auburn University, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, UCLA Health System, and the list goes on and on. The educational establishment has one of the highest weekly “malware event,” which is six and a half times the rate of malware that banks experience, and about three times as much as retailers.

Growing Concerns

Graduating college students should be wearier. There are more accounts being opened and may not think about the security, meaning wanting to finish school. “They (universities) don’t want IT to be involved, and as a result those systems are fairly vulnerable and ready to be attacked,” Richard Bejtlich, Brookings Institute said. Which means most schools leave student systems fairly open to attack, thus leaving

But many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain our personal data without having to break into our homes. In recent years, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identifying data, such as passwords or even banking information. With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual’s identity to conduct a wide range of crimes: for example, false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name. 

As students head back to school or leave for college for the first time, the threats they face via email, social media, and on their ubiquitous mobile devices are more than real. For most students entering or returning to university settings this fall, email is not their primary form of communication, meaning that email-based threats are often poorly understood. Research on such offenses, such as using login credentials of one of the school’s professors to access the school’s computer network or hacking into fellow students’ email accounts and attempting to blackmail, is conducted by the Campus Computing Project, a top-tier research entity that provides data regarding information technology (IT) on U.S. colleges, and Educational Security Incidents (ESI), an online research repository that collects data on security incidents in higher educational institutions. The most common types of cyber-related offenses at college campuses tend to involve the release of information to unknown or unauthorized individuals, specifically from university IT personnel, with hacker-related offenses declining in the last several years.

Reducing Risk

To help reduce the risk of identity theft, follow some of this advice.

  • Be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are.
  • Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.
  • Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.
  • Think about your first job interview when posting online
  • Understand that social media have become major targets for attackers
  • Remember that malware is everywhere
  • Beware of Phishing
  • Choose strong passwords and keep them safe
  • Online offers that look too good to be true usually are
  • Keep your computer current with the latest patches and updates.

College students must be extremely vigilant to online threats to avoid opening up personal and financial information to attackers.

Terms

  • Cyber-Attack: An attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system.
  • Cyber-Threat: Anything that represent a vulnerability in or a risk to the data you intend to protect, includes viruses and malware, it also represents hackers, security system weaknesses and insider threats.
  • Malicious Programs: Any software that brings harm to a computer system. Can be in the form of worms, viruses, trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits, etc., which steal protected data, delete documents or add software not approved by a user.
  • Firewall: Hardware or software designed to prevent unauthorized access to a computer or network from another computer or network.
  • Intrusion detection system (IDS): Program or device used to detect that an attacker is or has attempted unauthorised access to computer resources.
  • Phishing: Method used by criminals to try to obtain financial or other confidential information (including user names and passwords) from internet users, usually by sending an email that looks as though it has been sent by a legitimate organization (often a bank). The email usually contains a link to a fake website that looks authentic. 

Resources

Report A Threat

And if you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation.

Contact the FTC by:
Phone: (877) 438-4338 

or

Mail to:
Consumer Response Center
FTC
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580

Learn More

Google is a great resource for finding articles on prevention, here are a few to get started: