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Why College Campuses Are Big Targets for Cyber Attacks

Ever wonder why YOUR account would ever be hacked?

October 2, 2017 9:13 AM

College Campuses are a central hub for diversity, intelligence, and advanced technology. Many people no matter what age, strive to go to a good college, and receive the best education. Goals and dreams are achieved during the years people put in at school, but unfortunately hurt can come out of it as well. Over the past decade, universities have found themselves to be a huge target of cybercrime due to the vast amount of sensitive data and expensive research that they possess. Many universities found that student accounts were the main culprit of these attacks, but actual students weren’t doing the hacking. Hackers found ways to identify vulnerabilities in student accounts, and use them to hack and retrieve data and research.

A study completed by student security technicians from the security group of University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Division of Information Technology, stated that out of a sample size of 500 security tickets, 277 involved compromised accounts. These compromised accounts were further broken into types of cybercrime that were carried out. Out of 277 compromised accounts, 91 were phishing crimes, 36 were spam crimes, 48 were scam crimes, 19 were malware crimes, and 42 were unknown. Interestingly enough, 167 of these UMBC accounts, were student accounts. Students received multiple emails from UMBC accounts a day about a variety of things. Many students trust these emails for the very fact that it comes from a UMBC account. The average student has little knowledge about any cybercrimes that can occur in a University. Information about serious cybercrimes are usually kept within the department that handles such issues, in order to eliminate a scare. However, because of the lack of knowledge students have on cybercrimes, they are most vulnerable to responding to these attacks that come from university accounts.

Say a student receives two advertisement emails. One from an account of the same university, and one from an unknown email alias. Both of these emails contain malicious links. The student, unaware of how easily a university account can also get hacked, deletes the unknown email, and clicks on the link from the university email. Now the student has a virus on their computer because the university email also had a malicious link. Unfortunately, because most students automatically trust emails received from their university accounts, hackers take advantage of that in many ways. Hackers from all around the world target student accounts from multiple universities to enable phishing attempts, send out scam emails, and commit malware crimes.

Creating cyber security awareness at universities, is the most important step towards eliminating the vast amount of cyber crime that victimizes campuses. Cybersecurity and IT departments can do as much as they can to block malicious sites, phishing attempts, and scams; but it is then up to students, faculty, and staff to keep their accounts safe. If students create a strong password, and change it regularly, that can make a big difference in reducing the amount of compromised student accounts. Everyone wants to receive the best education at their university, learning how to stay safe online, is the best way to Be the Key in Cybersecurity.

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