Universities and businesses will need cybersecurity and Big Data experts as society becomes increasingly dependent on online communications and transactions

universities-cybersecurity-big-dataDuring the summer of 2012, the state of South Carolina suffered a massive cyber attack in which 3.9 million tax returns and 387,000 credit and debit card numbers were exposed in a hacker attack at the state Department of Revenue.

Hackers also targeted the University of South Carolina’s College of Education’s web server, compromising about 34,000 students, faculty and staff personal information. Names, addresses and Social Security numbers as far back as 2005 were stolen.

How did this happen and what are universities doing to prevent future attacks?

After more than a year since the attack, it remains unclear who hacked the school servers, although it is believed to have come from outside the United States.

USC was criticized for not taking appropriate preventive measures to protect student identity, and for its delayed response informing everyone of the security breach. A third-party company named Kroll Advisory Solutions was brought in to help USC victims monitor their credit reports.

In addition to consulting with security firms, USC, along with other major universities, is taking preventive security measures by partnering with IBM to educate students in cybersecurity and Big Data careers.

The company provides technology and materials to the schools, and students come out trained and comfortable with its tools.

Next page: eCampus News shares Big Data resources.

eCampus News has extensive coverage of cybersecurity and Big Data issues. Here’s a rundown of five of the most important developments.

1. Universities brace for another year of security breaches

Records compromised by data breaches in higher education were already at a near all-time high that year, with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reporting more than 2 million compromised. In 2013, the number was more than 3 million. Ten percent of all data breaches in the United States were in the education sector. As the Ponemon Institute and Symantec estimate the cost of education data at $142 per record, that’s a potential cost exceeding $425 million.

2. Higher education’s Big (Data) Bang: Part one

At a conference in October devoted to exploring the perks of Big Data in higher education, the event’s keynote speaker had a surprisingly contrarian take on the subject. “Big Data is bull—,” Harper Reed, the chief technology officer of President Obama’s 2012 campaign, said to an audience that included many campus IT officials hoping to learn more about Big Data’s benefits. Reed, who used the power of data to help Obama secure reelection, said the term is just a marketing tool meant to drive college and university IT officials toward expensive technologies for storing and analyzing data.

3. Higher education’s Big (Data) Bang: Part two

A university recently crunched all of the “Big Data” it had gathered on a course and made a surprising discovery. Out of the two professors who taught the course, one had significantly lower performing students. But this was a professor who had won several teaching awards and was well-respected by campus leaders. What was going on here, the researchers wondered as they sifted through all of the data points at their disposal.

4. Higher education’s Big (Data) Bang: Part three

The use of Big Data could unlock as much as $5 trillion in economic value a year, and it’s falling on colleges and universities to ensure such a boon happens. Higher education institutions in recent years have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in data research and tools. Some universities are putting up this money themselves, while others are relying on government and organization grants.

How concerned are you about security at your college or university? Share your views with us in the comments section below and follow @eCN_Denny and @eCN_Jake on Twitter.

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