Within recent years, the amount of cyber attacks that have befallen companies have significantly increased. The top two sectors that are having breaches include the healthcare and retail sectors. However, perhaps it may come as a surprise to find that the sector with the third highest incidents related to security breaches is the education center. Specifically, higher education with Universities and Colleges throughout the nation being targeted. This further necessitates the importance of cyber security.
Just last year, major breaches occurred at Pennsylvania State University, University of Connecticut, Washington State University, the University of Virginia and John Hopkins University. At all these schools, various information was stolen from credit card data, social security numbers, and even research information. It is likely that Universities are now being targeted because for the most part, schools are not aware that security is a problem or they are simply not catching holes in their security in time. In fact, in a recent study where Tinfoil Security tested the security networks of 557 state universities using a cross-site scripting attack, twenty-five percent of the school were vulnerable to an attack. Another reason that security breaches at Universities have been more successful than in other sectors is because often, Universities do not have strict control over the software and hardware that students and the faculty use. The difficulty increases when you consider that unlike many corporations, Universities cannot control the devices that people are bringing on campus.
Professionals suggest that there are still things that can be done to protect Universities and the students and faculty within them. They suggest that whatever limited resources schools might have for Cyber-Security is focused on protecting the most sensitive information. Another good place to start is by getting the Universities to acknowledge that cyber-attacks are a real threat in the first place. If this is the case, it is likely that more of the budget will be used for security, which will do more good in the long run.
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Earlier this month, yet another online business has been targeted by hackers. Who was the victim this time: the customers of Ashley Madison, an online dating website for married people looking for affairs. A group of hackers that call themselves the Impact Team claim to have stolen the information from the entire database that Ashley Madison uses – this includes the personal information of all the customers, which totals 33 million members in 46 countries. Meanwhile, official Ashley Madison representatives claimed that the media was simply exaggerating and that the hackers were unable to completely infiltrate their system. The Impact Team said that they have released over 2,500 customer records and demand that Ashley Madison take down the site or else they will release the rest of the data they have stolen.
While some have suggested that there is nothing to worry about since the information that customers of Ashley Madison uses is usually fake, there is still a small source of anxiety for customers who have used the the “paid delete” option on the site. The “paid delete” option is when a user wants to completely delete their account from the system. In order to do this, customers must pay $19 – usually with a credit card. This credit card information is stored in the system as well as other personal information such as legal names and addresses. It is this valuable information that the hackers called the Impact Team are threatening to release.
From this recent attack on Ashley Madison to the number of businesses that have been hacked within the year, it is becoming more and more apparent that cybersecurity is a must. Not only is it important, it is paramount, and should be one of the things that businesses put at the top of their to do list. Cyber security involves all information technology security services that protects not only computers, but also networks, programs and data from unauthorized access, destruction, or change of data. With the amount of cyber attacks that have happened as well as the recent attack on the U.S. Government’s Office of Personnel Management that happened earlier this year, it is clear that the federal government must figure out ways to improve cybersecurity to better protect businesses and customers alike.
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In order to prevent data breaches like AshleyMadison.com and protect sensitive data, businesses should make cybersecurity a priority.
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