Importance Of Network Security On College Campuses

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Among the adult population in U.S., college students (graduates and undergraduates) make up a major portion of internet users in the country. This can be confirmed by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study, which reveals that among the 10,000 survey participants, 93% to 95% had access to internet.

The same source also found out that social media use among college students and teens in general is growing at a rapid rate. Apart from students, teachers and college administrators are also heavily dependent on internet use to carry out research, maintain library records and perform several other tasks.

However, the systems are vulnerable to threats that make universities prone to data losses, student privacy breach and other risks. The University of South Carolina stands as an example, suffering their 7th security breach this year after a laptop in the physics department was compromised.

Also, thousands of personal university records were published by hackers last year from well-known universities (53 in total) including Princeton, Stanford, Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Some of the networking threats that surround college campuses today include:


Top social media companies and international bodies have been victims of malware and domain hijacking during the last few years. Hackers also target universities through DNS or the domain names, which gives them access to emails, academic records, social security numbers, etc.

This can easily result in data exfiltration and translate into a huge financial and reputation loss for the institutions. Moreover, OpenDNS reports that network systems in college suffer 300% higher malware infection incidents compared to enterprises and government agencies. The primary cause is the expansive internet users in colleges, which leaves the institutions exposed to breaches.

P2P software breach

The use of file sharing and P2P programs is common on college campuses. They are quite popular among the student community as they allow exchange of movies, music and other media files through the internet network. But Trojans, Worms, Mydoom, Swen and other dangerous regularly attack P2P networks.

Some offerings are also accompanied by hidden spyware, which infiltrates the users on the network and carries out searches to access their financial, medical and social network credentials. A single compromised account becomes a loophole for other student accounts as all of them are connected on a single P2P network.

BGP (Border Gateway Protocol)

BGP makes up the major portion of the data that is transmitted through college networks. However, for any given IP, there is no way to identify whether the host of a protocol is the real owner, so any hacker can claim to be the owner of a college IP range.

So by attacking the IP ranges and BGP protocols, the hackers can divert students and faculty from accessing the network, opening gateways to dangerous sites. They can also transmit sensitive information to their serves in the process.

So what does all of this mean for you, the dorm-room based entrepreneur? It means that your business, because it is connected to your college network, is vulnerable to a wide variety of nefarious infiltrations—all because your fellow students (and your professors and admin staff) might not be as careful as you are about keeping everything safe and secured.

Before you freak out, though, there are a few things that you can do to protect your entrepreneurial interests:

1. System Protection

Make sure that you’ve got top notch business-level anti-virus and P2P protection software installed on your system. This way, even if some jerk does manage to find a way to get on to your school’s network, they shouldn’t be able to get into your system.

2. Cloud Storage

Take advantage of one of the many cloud based systems available for small businesses. This will allow you to store your data safely and access it from anywhere. Just make sure you disconnect from your cloud server when you’re done working on your business.

3. External Drives

Keep all of your business related work saved on an external drive and only plug that drive into your machine when you are actually working on your business and with those files. Hackers can’t leap from your computer into an unplugged storage device! It’s old school, but it works.

What are some of the ways you’ve found to keep your data safe in spite of your dorm-mate’s more lax attitudes toward web and network security?

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