The Final Four no college wants to make

There have been 2.3 million records breached at colleges since 2008.

There’s a March Madness bracket out there that might cause nightmares for campus technologists everywhere. It ranks higher education’s worst security breaches, and a related report says things probably will get worse.

So while fans from VCU, Butler, Kentucky, and U-Conn celebrate a shot at the national title this weekend, IT officials from Ohio State University (OSU), Georgia’s Valdosta State University, Buena Vista University in Iowa, and the University of North Florida will see their school’s security blunders recognized as the worst in higher education in 2010.

On the strength of an October database breach that exposed personal information of 750,000 students, faculty, and alums, OSU won the 2010 Higher Education Data Breach Madness.

More on data security in higher education…

Campus Network Security Made Easy

The Data Breach Madness bracket, which began with campuses sporting the 64 worst data losses of last year, was released this week by Application Security, Inc., a database security company based in New York.

Runner-up Valdosta had 170,000 university records illegally accessed, Buena Vista had 93,000, and North Florida racked up 52,853 compromised records. The personally identifiable information stockpiled on campus servers includes names, addresses, credit card numbers, financial information, Social Security numbers, and healthcare records of employees, students, and their parents.

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Six reasons Google Books failed

Judge Denny Chin’s opinion in rejecting the settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who sued it for infringement of their copyrights can be read as both as a map of wrong turns taken in the past and as an invitation to design a better route into the digital future, reports the New York Review. Extrapolating from the dense, 48-page text that accompanied the judge’s March 23 decision, it is possible to locate six crucial points where things went awry:

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Cheating on the hard work of school reform

Cheating in school became education topic number one this week, except this time it wasn’t students cheating on tests–it was adults cheating for them, TIME reports. As part of a series, USA Today published an article strongly suggesting that teachers or administrators goosed student test score gains at an elementary and middle school in Washington, D.C. Since it was a school former D.C. chancellor Michelle Rhee had singled out for praise, the news created yet another battleground for Rhee combatants. The distraction is too bad because the focus on cheating offers–pardon the cliché–a teachable moment for parents and policymakers…

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Hacktivist Android Trojan designed to fight app piracy

There’s hacking, then there’s hacktivism. There’s malware, then there’s Android Trojans like the latest “threat” discovered by Symantec. Android.Walkinwat is like the Batman of mobile malware–a rogue vigilante seeking justice through means that also skirt legality, but for a good cause, PCWorld reports. The purpose of Android.Walkinwat is not to take control of your Android smartphone, compromise your personal data, or steal your bank account information. In fact, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from Android.Walkinwat. But, if you have a habit of downloading pirated Android apps rather than paying for the legitimate version, you might run into this Trojan…

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Campus Network Security Made Easy

In October, higher education saw one of its largest data security breaches ever, as the Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information for about 760,000 current and former Ohio State University students were accessed by unauthorized network users. But it was a breach at the University of Hawaii (UH) that might be the most damaging of all.

That’s because a former UH student filed a class-action lawsuit against the school Nov. 18 in what is believed to be the first such case of its kind. If the lawsuit succeeds, or if UH settles, it could change how colleges and universities handle sensitive information going forward.

Even before these events made headlines, many colleges and universities already were re-examining their network security practices. But securing school networks is a huge challenge. All sorts of devices—including laptops, smart phones, netbooks, and tablets—request access to a campus network from many different locations.

From granting access to staff and students using multiple devices, to making sure that all necessary applications receive permission to run on a network, school IT staff have a lot to consider as they build secure campus networks that are easy to maintain.

With the generous support of Juniper Networks and Qwest Communications, we’ve collected these stories from our archives, along with other relevant materials, to help you make smart decisions when it comes to securing your own campus networks.

—The Editors

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Group seeks labor eMails by Michigan professors

A conservative research group in Michigan has issued a far-reaching public records request to the labor studies departments at three public universities in the state, seeking any eMails involving the Wisconsin labor turmoil, reports the New York Times. The group, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, declined to explain why it was making the Freedom of Information Act request for material from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University. But several professors who received the records request, which was first reported by Talking Points Memo on Tuesday, said it appeared to be an attempt to intimidate or embarrass professors who are sympathetic to organized labor…

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10 college admissions trends

The toughest college admissions year on record is reaching its apex this week as nervous seniors obsessively check their email or a website to discover their fates, reports the Daily Beast. The hotter-than-ever Ivy League schools, which all had a record number of applicants this year, will notify the lucky ones at 5 p.m. Wednesday. It has been an especially stressful process this year. The weak economy and a wider acceptance of the common application—Columbia used it for the first time this year and had a 32 percent jump in applicants over last year—has meant the competition is steeper than ever. Over the past five years, applications to the eight Ivy League schools plus MIT and Stanford skyrocketed from just over 200,000 applications to almost 300,000 early and regular applications, for a total increase of more than 40 percent, according to Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting…

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Amazon’s digital storage service slammed by critics

According to Fox News, Amazon’s plan to launch a cloud storage service for digital music and video collections might be pie in the sky, the New York Post reported Wednesday, citing critics. The plan, which was unveiled Tuesday and already drawing fire from some of its content partners, gave Amazon a head start on rivals Google and Apple. The two Silicon Valley, Calif., digital giants were not expected to detail their own digital media storage services until their separate developer conferences. Both Apple and Google were also still seeking music licenses… 

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Virginia Tech fined $55K for response to shootings

Virginia Tech officials have been criticised for their slow respond to the campus's 2007 shootings.

Virginia Tech will have to pay the maximum $55,000 fine for violating federal law by waiting too long to notify students during the 2007 shooting rampage, the U.S. Department of Education announced March 29.

Department officials said in a letter to the school that the sanction should have been greater for the school’s slow response to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The $55,000 fine was the most the department could levy for Tech’s two violations of the federal Clery Act, which requires timely reporting of crimes on campus.

More on the Virginia Tech shooting…

Feds: Va. Tech broke law in ’07 shooting

Report examines violent attacks on U.S. campuses

Va. Tech report: Staff warned their families first

“While Virginia Tech’s violations warrant a fine far in excess of what is currently permissible under the statute, the Department’s fine authority is limited,” wrote Mary Gust, director of a department panel that dictated what punishment the school would receive for the violation.

The university could have lost some of its $98 million in federal student aid. The department has never stripped a school of federal funding for such a violation.

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Job searches require phone lessons for text-happy students

Lackluster phone skills can be a stumbling block for recent graduates in the job market.

With piles of resumes and cover letters waiting to be sifted through, employers more and more weed out applicants with quick phone calls. That can mean trouble for recent college graduates with overdeveloped texting thumbs.

Teens and college students rely on text messages and eMails as their primary form of communication with friends, making phone calls somewhat of a relic in the college demographic, according to a national survey.

Companies aren’t impressed by timely texts, however, so recent graduates looking for work need to know the finer points of actually speaking to someone, not typing to them, said Lesley Mitler, founder and president of Priority Candidates, a New York-based company that counsels students in their job searches.

Mitler, whose expertise was in executive job searches before starting Priority Candidates in 2009, said tutoring recent college graduates on the do’s and don’ts of phone interviews has become a central part of her job-hunting process.

Too much filler, not enough annunciation, frequent babbling: these are the definite don’ts of phone interviews, and Mitler often sees the faux pas among out-of-work 20-somethings.

“This is not a generation of people who use the phone as a regular form of communication at all,” she said, adding that almost-exclusive texting and eMailing has “eroded” students’ communication skills. “It’s a skill that they seem to be way behind in, but you’re going to have to talk on the phone if you’re in the business world.”

Mitler tells her clients to avoid cell phones for official interviews – landlines are clearer and less prone to static interruption – and to have their resume and notes in front of them. If a student doesn’t make an impression within the first 10 minutes of the phone call, he or she has likely lost their chance.

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