Zac Wenzel

JRNM 151 Student

 

Cyber crime is more relevant today than ever. Recent major incidents include the Sony hacks in 2014, the hacking of Yahoo customer information, and the theft of Target’s customer information, and alleged Russian cyber involvement in the 2016 U.S. election. Living in the digital age, where information is stored on hard drives and in clouds, information is more susceptible to being stolen at the click of a mouse.

Cybercrime, at its most simple definition, is the action of illegally obtaining data through malware and various other hacking techniques. Some of these include the installation of malware onto computers, cell phones, and other digital devices. Processes such as “spearfishing,” in which a perpetrator may use e-mail spoofing fraud attempts to target an organization for financial gain, or access to secure information are also relevant.

It is important to know how a large issue like cyber crime can affect college students at all institutions.

“College students are not usually the end targets of cyber criminals,” said Hikmat Chedid, professor of Engineering and Information Technologies at Lorain County Community College and director of the Advanced Digital Forensics Institute for the Northeast Ohio Forensic Data Recovery located in North Ridgeville. “But they do have access to student email accounts to reach professors and ultimately servers used by institutes.”

While students may not be the endgame of criminals, they can be used as bait to bigger fish. Chedid strongly advises against using public Wi-Fi, found in such places as coffee shops, restaurants and hotel rooms to access websites like MyCampus, Canvas, and any online banking websites, as any criminal also on that Wi-Fi is capable of accessing information from those educational sites. Students must also avoid clicking on any unfamiliar links or attachments they may receive in emails. Using a Virtual Private Network, VPN, is also highly recommended by Chedid for all students when accessing course work.

While there is no specific data to backup the vulnerability of college students as opposed to others, hackers do tend to target “those who are distracted and vulnerable,” according to Doug Huber, assistant professor of computer information systems and network security at LCCC.

With much of their focus on their studies, distraction and vulnerability can be a common trait among college students. However, students should feel comfortable knowing they are protected when accessing information on their devices on the LCCC  campus.

“The college has a very advanced firewall, and all emails sent go through extensive security and are very thoroughly scrubbed,” Huber said.

Huber, who has also done work for the FBI sponsored company Infragard, which helps protect various cyber infrastructures, recommends the same standard practices one might use to avoid getting sick.

“If you don’t want the flu, wash your hands, disinfect areas,” he says. The same can be said about cyber security. Routine safety practices will reduce vulnerability and restrict cyber criminals from the wrongdoings they seek to inflict.