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Friday, May 4, 2018

Cutting-Edge Hackers Threaten Higher Ed

For IT professionals in higher education, cybercrime has become much more sophisticated than hackers simply sending out email blasts in hopes of finding an unsuspecting recipient. Criminals now create fake online ecosystems that look so real that even the most skeptical individual may be convinced they’re legitimate.

Then there’s the problem of information shared on social media, which is so plentiful that it makes it easy to gather information about an organization and create targeted messages that are even more persuasive.

“No matter how much training we give a faculty or staff member about how to recognize a suspicious message, it’s hard to blame them for failing to recognize a message that is crafted and customized to look as innocuous as possible,” Nicci Fagan, director of Central and Eastern U.S. higher education sales for CDW-G, wrote in an EdTech post.

Technology solutions enable IT pros to stay up-to-date, but communication is the key to security. Users need to understand just how advanced these attacks can be and the serious threat they pose.

“IT staff who develop campus awareness initiatives may find it useful to educate users not only on specific signs to watch out for—for example, characteristics of phishing emails—but also on the broader context of hacking itself,” Fagan said. “Many users may not realize, for example, the extent to which hacking has become a big business, complete with the tools and resources to craft effective deception.”

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