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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As college students begin to head back to school, they’ll get lots of reminders on how to keep their personal belongings safe. But a different kind of theft could be far more costly. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has some advice for keeping personal data safe on campus.
Students pass around a lot of personal information in the first days of the school year, everywhere from the registrar’s office to the bank, and that poses risks.
From the federal government to massive retailers — data breaches have become more prevalent in the last few years, and academic institutions haven’t been immune. Michael Kaiser with the National Cyber Security Alliance says, “You have student data, people coming and going to school for the first time and they’re registering for classes and they’ve got all this information they have to give the institution. That’s all very valuable data to cybercriminals.”
Kaiser believes that exchange of information, plus data from things like medical research, and other scientific contracts can make these institutions a big target. And some, are only just catching up to that idea. He says, “They may not always be aware of how much data they have and that starts with any kind of organization looking at, what is the data we have on this campus, what are the crown jewels of that data, and what are we doing to protect it?”
So students should try to get a sense of their college or university’s privacy policies and whether they could leave an opening for a breach. According to Kaiser, “It starts at the very basic level of every user who’s accessing a network – simple things like software patches, strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, which is a way to have something in addition to a password. that should be implemented at almost every college campus at this point.”
Parents back home can help by keeping lines of communication open and making students aware of any breaches to a bank, insurance company, or anywhere else the family does business. Also they should remind students to check theirCREDIT CARDS, credit reports, and bank accounts regularly for signs of fraud.