ThreatMetrix Identifies Top Cybersecurity Threats for the Back-to-School Season

Online Security Takes Center Stage as College Students Spend More of Their Academic and Personal Lives on the Web

Sep 06, 2012, 10:40 ET from ThreatMetrix

SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ThreatMetrix™, the fastest-growing provider of integrated cybercrime prevention solutions, has identified the top strategies to protect against online threats facing college students as they begin the 2012/2013 academic year.

The 2012 back-to-school season promises to be a particularly vulnerable timeframe for U.S. college students as learners are becoming increasingly reliant on Internet technologies for study groups, data storage and educational empowerment opportunities. For example, a recent study by the online textbook provider, Chegg, showed that approximately half (47%) of all college students plan to participate in online study groups and two-thirds (64%) are likely to use an online assistant to compile study materials in the coming year.

"The Internet is offering some important benefits for the typical college student," said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix. "In addition to entertainment and social networking, students are going online to access information, participate in study groups and perform other activities that used to occur offline. The flipside of these technologies is that students need to take the proper steps to protect themselves from online cybercrime. There are plenty of examples of what could go wrong if people don't take online security seriously, ranging from loss of personal information to online banking fraud."

Online Security Strategies for College Students

ThreatMetrix has identified several strategies college students can use to improve online security during the 2012/2013 academic year:

1.     Password Protection. Today's college students maintain an astonishing number of online subscriptions. From iTunes and Amazon accounts to social media sites and online learning initiatives, students need to be diligent about protecting their passwords. Assuming that at least one account will be hacked at some point, it's important to have unique passwords in place for different services.

2.     Mobile and Tablet Devices. Mobile and tablets are extremely popular technologies, especially with college students. Yet many students fail to recognize that smartphones and tablets are just as vulnerable to online threats as desktops and laptops. Students need to make sure all devices are equipped with robust security software – even Apple iOS and other devices that were once considered to be safe from malware attacks.

3.     Online/Cloud Services. Cloud services are a rapidly emerging technology used in many fields, including post-secondary education. For students, the nightmare scenario is being locked out of Google Docs or other essential, web-based resources the night before a major assignment is due. To avoid disaster, students need to have a backup plan that includes actual backups of vital notes or documents.

4.     Social Networking. Students should take extra care when they connect to their friends online. Privacy settings are particularly important so that personal information, including birthdays, private pictures and whether or not you are home is only visible to your friends and not to everybody.

5.     Malicious Software. Throughout the year, students widely use the Internet to research and to learn about things using tools such as web search and image search. These tools are abused daily with "search engine poisoning" techniques, where fraudsters and cybercriminals trick people into visiting malicious websites that have the ability to infect a computer instantly and without notice.

According to Faulkner, back-to-school technology upgrades can also help protect students from unwanted intrusions and data losses. "By upgrading outdated or infected hardware and updating to the latest versions of key software solutions, students can significantly improve their overall online security as they head back into the classroom."

About ThreatMetrix

ThreatMetrix is the fastest-growing provider of integrated cybercrime prevention solutions. The ThreatMetrix™ Cybercrime Defender Platform helps companies protect customer data and secure transactions against fraud, malware, data breaches, as well as man-in-the browser (MitB) and Trojan attacks. The Platform consists of advanced cybersecurity technologies, including TrustDefender™ ID, which is cloud-based, real-time device identification, malware protection with TrustDefender™ Cloud and TrustDefender™ Client, as well as TrustDefender™ Mobile for smartphone applications. The company serves a rapidly growing global customer base across a variety of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government, and healthcare.

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SOURCE ThreatMetrix