Study: Smart phones threaten campus network security

Colleges have tracked a dramatic increase in smart phones on campus.

Could the size of a smart phone’s screen cause nightmares for campus IT officials? Yes, according to a Georgia Tech study outlining smart phone vulnerabilities that could make campus computer infrastructure vulnerable to hackers.

The comprehensive look at how mobile devices and applications are exploited by hackers has grabbed educators’ attention during a semester that has seen an explosion in the number of smart phones and tablets inundating campus networks.

The report, written by Mustaque Ahamad and Bo Rotoloni of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, charges that small smart phones screens makes it more likely that students and faculty could be infected with malware and viruses on their iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and other devices.…Read More

Students battle Facebook malware with security app

Facebook accounts for about 5 percent of all phishing attacks.

An application designed by a University of California Riverside student duo has a built-in customer base: the thousands of Facebook members whose accounts are littered with spam and malware every day, along with college IT directors afraid those hacker postings will harm the campus’s network.

Even the most vigilant Facebook members can miss malware posted to their account when hackers use stolen user names and passwords to spread harmful links using enticing deals like free Apple iPads or Southwest Airlines flights, or advertising supposed video of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Read more about Facebook in higher education……Read More

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.…Read More

Facebook malware threatens campus web security

Hackers have turned to social media sites in recent years.

Students will click on just about anything posted to their Facebook walls—a social media habit that has brought a flood of malware to college campus networks.

These deceitful Facebook links—posted by hackers who have stolen student login information—have become a primary concern among campus technology leaders, and some colleges and universities are using security programs that isolate student computers before they do damage to the entire campus network.

Much like hackers have used suspicious eMail messages to solicit personal information from web users, spammers are now “clickjacking” Facebook accounts and posting links to friends’ Facebook pages.…Read More

Supreme Court rejects illegal downloading argument

Recording industry officials have asked campus officials for help in stopping illegal downloading.

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a Texas teenager who got in trouble for illegal downloading of music—a potential blow to students who might claim to be “innocent infringers” of copyright laws after downloading music without paying and bogging down campus networks.

Whitney Harper of Texas acknowledged she used file-sharing programs to download and share three dozen songs, claiming she didn’t know the program she used was taking songs from the internet illegally.

She also said the money she owes the recording industry should be reduced because, as a 16-year-old, she didn’t know that what she did amounted to copyright infringement.…Read More

Botnets continue to threaten campus networks

A network of more than 70,000 botnets were recently discovered in government and business computers.
A recently discovered botnet of more than 70,000 machines included many government and business computers.

Web security experts say campus IT officials should stop using students’ Social Security numbers as identifications, because about 5,900 known botnets have stolen valuable information from computers in many sectors, including higher education.

Shadowserver, an organization that tracks botnet incidents in governments, education, and the private sector, unveiled the running tally of botnets days before security firm Symantec released a report March 2 showing a 5.5 percent hike in spam eMail last month, spurred mostly by botnets. Spam now accounts for 90 percent of all eMail sent within the U.S., Symantec said.

A single botnet, called Grum, is responsible for 26 percent of worldwide spam, according to the Symantec report. The harmful spam messages were mostly disguised as pharmaceutical eMails.…Read More

Going rogue: IT officials fight student-run web networks

A University of Iowa security audit revealed rogue web connections across campus.
A University of Iowa security audit revealed rogue web connections across campus.

Campus technology officials say there’s only one surefire way to stop students from creating their own wireless internet connections in dormitories and creating a security risk for computer users: provide reliable wireless access across campus.

Unauthorized, or “rogue,” wireless networks cropped up on college campuses of every size in the mid-2000s, IT chiefs say, as students became impatient with little or no wireless connection in their dorms.

Many campuses only had wireless connections in libraries, leaving students to plug into the internet when studying in dormitories.…Read More