Why Trojans and Malware are Targeting College Students

Shweta Duey

When you think about malware, adware, or Trojans going on the attack, you often think of your personal computer, your phone, or your company being at risk. However, most people never think about the risk to colleges and universities. But if you look at the statistics, you’ll see that malware is a huge problem for the many colleges. This is largely because there are so many outside devices – students and professors both- connecting as guests on school networks.

By the Numbers

In 2018 and into the first half of 2019, the colleges and universities were the worst when it came to being compromised by adware and Trojans. Furthermore, it was second on the list of sectors most often hit by ransomware. Part of the problem is that no one suspects that cybercriminals and hackers have a lot to gain by striking colleges and universities. After all, they aren’t inherently money-making organizations. Additionally, most of their infrastructure is dedicated to student activities and information storage.

Sneaky Reasons

Hacking into an college’s network isn’t about money, at least not at the point of interest. It’s about gaining access to other devices connected to the same network and shoveling adware, spyware, and malware onto those devices. College students are notorious for not being all that concerned when it comes to Internet security. They either don’t see it as a threat, aren’t aware, or don’t think they can afford to defend against it. Unfortunately, this leaves large numbers of smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other computers with zero protection against malware.

Hackers can access a network and jump from one defenseless machine to the next, infecting them all. They turn on the adware or malware to gobble up information at a much more rapid rate. This sort of attack also can prey on the personal information stored in university databases about their students. Hackers gain their full names, ID numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. This sort of data can easily be used to create fake ID cards, gain false medical prescriptions, apply for credit cards, and more. Most young people aren’t thinking about checking their credit scores or wondering if someone out there is impersonating them, which means stealing their data and perpetuating it can be easier.

Staying Safe on Campus

ollege campuses typically have free WiFi connections. However, those connections are often open, meaning anyone can get on them at any time. With a modicum of technological know-how, hackers can see what pages you are visiting on the Internet. Using a protection software like MalwareBytes is the best way to stay safe when surfing the Web. It can look for illicit programs attempting to gain access to your connection and stop them in their tracks. Additionally, it’s even more powerful if it comes with VPN protection built in.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) masks your IP address with one from a third party, meaning anyone tracking your movements online will be chasing the wrong IP address. All information you send to and receive from the Internet will encrypt.This means only you will be able to see your information. All college students show have some combination of VPN and Anti-Virus Software.

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