Readers Write: College students particularly susceptible to cybersecurity breaches

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Electronic devices are common on college campuses across the United States, making getting assignments done and communication easier, but they also make students vulnerable.

College students need to be more aware of the risks involved with technology use and take steps to protect themselves.

This specific population is particularly vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches because of their widespread use of technology.

Colleges and universities across the nation have online academic networks that provide access to resources for their students. However, this compilation of information and resources in accounts provides hackers with a target.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a data breach in December of 2016 potentially compromised the social security and bank account numbers of 80,000 students, faculty and vendors at the University of California-Berkeley.

Students can learn from this data breach and begin questioning what their own educational institution is doing to protect their information.

The commonality of electronic devices on college campuses can also make them targets for theft.

They may feel a false sense of security on campus and ask someone to watch their belongings while they use the restroom.

Once an item has been stolen any personal data within it is vulnerable.

In addition, students may leave a public computer logged in to their personal account, providing access to the next person who sits down at the device.

It is critical that they take the time to log out of their school accounts and delete their browsing history to prevent others from accessing their information.

Social media use creates other cybersecurity risks.

According to a public opinion poll in January 2018 by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington D.C., 88 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 reported using at least one social media site.

Students with public profiles on social media leave themselves vulnerable to fake accounts being used to monitor their activities. Even a private account is vulnerable if the owner allows strangers access.

CBS News reported that a school district in Glendale, Calif., hired a company called Geo

Listening to monitor students social media posts.

According to the company website, they use software to “process, analyze and report the adverse social media from publicly available student posts,” and they have been employed to perform this service for colleges and universities in the United States.

Thus, college students need to be aware of the possibility they are being monitored before posting publicly and consider who they are giving access to.

Though technology has shaped the learning environment for the better, it has also created risks for students.

College students are particularly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats because of their use of technology. Threats can come in many forms from hackers to monitoring by the school administration.

However, it is critical that students be aware of the dangers of cyberspace and take steps to prevent their victimization.

Madison Schimek

Adelphi University, BA in Communications ’20

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