University IT Departments Take Action Against Cybercrime

In recent months, specific demographics of industries have seen noticeable increases in crimes like hacking, ransomware, spear phishing, and DDoS attacks.

 Hospitals and medical offices certainly top the list of targets due to the sensitive patient information they store, which also translates into a higher likelihood of paying a hacker’s ransom in order to avoid penalties for HIPAA violations and disruptions in patient care. But following closely behind medical facilities, schools have also become major targets for this type of crime, from preschools to graduate schools.

Like medical facilities, schools store an abundance of highly sensitive information, and too often, they don’t have their own dedicated IT departments or the strongest, top-notch and top-dollar security protocols. That means their gathered data is ripe for the picking as far as hackers are concerned. At the same time, the data they store typically belongs to underaged students ranging in ages from about three years old to their twenties; that means most of those students will have a clean slate credit record and won’t be checking up on their credit anytime soon.

With this ever-present threat, schools and universities are taking broader steps to protect themselves and their students. Some of those steps involve investing in stronger cybersecurity protocols, deploying encryption tools for transmitting sensitive information, and changing the way students do everything from register for classes to paying their tuition.

Of course, one of the most critical cybersecurity steps for any business or organization is up-to-date, comprehensive, and ongoing training for all employees. Too often, spear phishing and ransomware attacks work by taking advantage of an employee, especially via email, in order to install harmful software on the network.

But just because educational institutions are upping their security game, that doesn’t mean the school has to do all the work. Students can do a lot to protect themselves, too. By monitoring their accounts carefully and securing them with strong, unique passwords, they can work to block access to some of their accounts even if a hacker infiltrates the network. Making sure to only use the school’s network for approved and safe content is also key, as students are also likely sources of infiltration.

Finally, students might have to supply their personal identifiable information to the school they attend, but that doesn’t mean anyone else should necessarily be given access to it. Safeguarding their information in order to keep unauthorized individuals from gaining access to it can minimize the risk of identity theft and fraud.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: Mobile Wallets Aren’t the Wave of the Future…Yet.

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