Universities use tool to battle student ID theft

“I believe most students would not see a need to use identity protection software,” he said. “The real need lies in educating students of the dangers that exist when they do not protect their personal information on the internet.”

Ronald Yaros, an assistant journalism professor at the University of Maryland specializing in multimedia and online journalism, said software like Identity Finder could be useful for students and IT officials, and preaching sound security practices has remained the most reliable way to keep student identities safe.

“It’s almost an obligation on our part to make sure the next generation of technology users are constantly kept up with the newest ways to protect their most sensitive information,” Yaros said. “Hackers are inventing new ways every day. We have to keep up with them.”

College students’ web savvy and attention to sensitive personal information makes software like Identity Finder largely unnecessary, as long as students stay vigilant in their dorms and in campus computer labs, said Aaron Doering, associate professor of learning technologies at the University of Minnesota.

“I believe most students can quickly identify an eMail [or] web site that is false and are aware of what they should stay away from,” Doering said. “Like anything though, education in this area is always warranted and should be built into the practices of all [universities].”

Dallas Stout, a faculty member at University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, said that while campus IT departments can’t force students to use software to spot any vulnerabilities in their computers, making security tools available for free would still be worth the effort.

“Online privacy … [is] not something that is going to go away anytime soon,” he said. “The more tools young people have at their disposal to use for … managing personal information online, the more likely they will be to actually do it.”