Computer hacking is big business. Hackers in China, Russia, Vietnam and other countries have been actively hacking into the computers of American companies for years now in an effort to steal data that can be used for business purposes or national security purposes. However, hackers have also found that the computers of American businesses are also a treasure trove of personal information about the customers of American businesses that can also be used for identity theft in large numbers. Now, it appears that literally millions of hacking attempts are being done now against American colleges and universities to steal information for the same purposes that they steal information from American companies. Although the amount of hacking against universities and colleges has increased recently, these institutions have always been a major target of identity thieves because of the large amounts of personal data they hold. Just last year personal records of 36,000 college students and faculty were stolen and sold on the black market in just one hacking incident. As always, you are only as secure as the weakest place that holds your personal information, so it is important if you or a family member is a student or faculty member of a college or university that you know what the school is doing to protect your data that it holds.
Many schools are now implementing security policies to respond to this problem including limiting the use of faculty taking laptops to certain countries where they run the risk of using computer networks that will install viruses and malware in their computers that will provide access to school data banks. For those of us or our friends and family members who are involved with American colleges and universities, the price of security is eternal vigilance. Ask your Information Technology Department what specific steps are being taken to protect your personal information and also limit the amount of personal information provided to the school to no more than is absolutely required.