Cybersecurity important for college campuses

Cyber attacks can happen to anyone and everyone. Even the places many wouldn’t expect.


“Cyber security is protecting our data and its users from malware, spyware or some sort of mechanism that people are trying to get data out of our systems,” said Chad Marley, chief technology officer at Laramie County Community College.

Colleges and universities are constantly under attacks from cyber thieves trying to get others’ personal information.

“An IBM study in 2018 found that the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million,” said  Dr. Joe Schaffer, president of LCCC, during a presentation he gave before the spring 2019 semester.

According to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, “the education system was ranked #2 in the number of cyber security breaches by industry.”

LCCC is one of the higher education schools attacked by cyber thieves. Statistics show that in 2018 on average LCCC blocked 275 phishing emails daily, 1,925 emails weekly, 8,278 emails monthly and 100,100 emails yearly, according to Schaffer’s presentation. Along with LCCC blocking these emails, “Laramie County Community College also deleted 55 spoofed messages for spam weekly, 237 messages monthly, 2,860 messages yearly. ITS security also blocked 57 malware infected software weekly, 245 infected softwares monthly and 2,964 infected softwares yearly, all in 2018,” according to Schaffer’s cybersecurity presentation.

A hypothetical situation used by Google’s anti-abuse research team, tested on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, showed, “dropping 300 USB sticks around the area, 98 percent were picked up. In 45 percent of cases, folks not only plugged in the devices, but they also clicked on the files.”

Students and faculty can protect and prevent these cyber attacks. One of the ways cyber attacks can happen is by spam email.

“One of the ways to protect and prevent from these emails is that we’ve implemented a warning when the message comes from outside LCCC from a different email. We’ve also provided another warning that says the display name doesn’t match the email address” Marley said.

“A lot of this cyber security, they are trying to do through education. If someone gets an email they believe can be phishing or spam email, they can send it to ITS, we can scan the entire system and then add that email to a list of blocked emails,” Marley said

Cyber security training is critical. At LCCC, faculty take what is called Security Mentor Training. Statistics at LCCC shows that out of 362 full-time employees, 17.4 percent haven’t taken the Security Mentor Training while 82.6 percent took it at least once. These studies also show that out of 239 part-time employees, 74.5 percent haven’t taken the training.

“This was the first year that we’ve done the training, so we were focusing on the full-time employees and part-time employees. We did talk about making it available to the students just not making it a required activity,” Marley said.

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