ThreatMetrix Warns of Back to School Cybercrime Risks Associated with Mobile Devices and Data Breaches

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As the School Year Kicks into Full Gear, Students are Turning to Mobile Devices and Cybercriminals are Increasingly Targeting Higher Education Institutions

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ThreatMetrix®, the fastest-growing provider of context-based security and advanced fraud prevention solutions, today announced the top cybersecurity risks for educational institutions and students during the 2015-2016 school year. As data breaches increase in frequency and scale, and mobile usage continues to grow, ThreatMetrix warns academic institutions of the cyber threats associated with students’ return to campus.

“Technology is playing an increasingly integral role in education,” said Andreas Baumhof, chief technology officer at ThreatMetrix. “Students are taking online tests, using mobile devices in the classroom and storing their personal information in the cloud. While the digital classroom concept creates additional learning opportunities for students, it also increases vulnerabilities and opens the door for fraudsters to wage attacks.”

To prepare for cybercrime threats, ThreatMetrix has outlined the top cybercrime risks and trends that students and educational institutions should be aware of this school year:

  • An influx in mobile usage – The ThreatMetrix® Cybercrime Report: Q2 2015 analyzed more than three billion transactions for a summary of activity and discovered that 31 percent of those transactions occurred on mobile devices. As consumers and educational institutions adopt mobile as an e-commerce and academic tool, the accurate percentage for those using mobile devices is likely greater than 50 percent, increasing the potential to compromise digital identities. Students showing up to the classroom with mobile devices and tablets in hand may not know their online sharing activities are putting them at risk of falling victim to cybercrime. Students using multiple devices, such as laptops and mobile, leads to an increase in shared sensitive information and the possibility that private data is exposed to cybercriminals.
  • Cybercriminals targeting higher education – While many high profile data breaches target retailers, such as Neiman Marcus, Staples and Home Depot, universities are the latest target for fraudsters looking to compromise digital identities. Penn State announced in May the computer systems at its College of Engineering were hit by Chinese hackers in a sophisticated two-year operation, and in June Harvard discovered a data breach in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Central Administration. These recent attacks against higher education are indicative of a larger cybercrime trend targeting educational institutions.

In contrast to financial institutions, higher education does not have a large budget to allot to cybersecurity, resulting in a higher risk of intrusion. If hackers access the vast amount of personally identifiable information (PII) available on a university’s servers and internal websites, students, alumni and prospects of an academic institution will find their private data compromised. Compared to financial institutions and retailers, educational institutions store personal information that is more comprehensive in nature so there is much more at stake if a data breach occurs, including students’ financial information, social security numbers and medical histories.

“School officials need to do their part to make sure that everyone’s private information is safe,” said Baumhof. “Universities should operate under the assumption that their PII has been compromised. Educational institutions, especially those with internal websites, need to leverage global shared intelligence to protect digital identities and ensure they’re not the next data breach victims in the news.”

As cybercrime continues to grow across channels and industries, it is trending to include educational institutions as a top target. Attacks detected using real-time analysis and global shared intelligence show us that fraudsters are constantly developing sophisticated strategies to compromise digital identities. The ThreatMetrix® Digital Identity Network analyzes more than one billion transactions each month and offers the only frictionless cybersecurity solution that combines enhanced mobile identification, location-based authentication, endpoint intelligence, behavior intelligence and real-time trust analytics into a powerful, context-based authentication and fraud prevention solution.

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About ThreatMetrix
ThreatMetrix offers market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions leveraging a global shared digital identity network and real-time, customer-driven analytics platform. These solutions help customers differentiate between trusted users and potential fraud resulting in reduced friction, incremental revenue and lower fraud and operational costs.

ThreatMetrix secures customers against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations resulting from malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network, which analyzes billions of transactions and protects hundreds of millions of active user accounts across tens of thousands of websites and mobile applications. The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit http://www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

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© 2015 ThreatMetrix. All rights reserved. ThreatMetrix, TrustDefender ID, TrustDefender Cloud, TrustDefender Mobile, TrustDefender Client, the TrustDefender Cybercrime Protection Platform, ThreatMetrix Labs, and the ThreatMetrix logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of ThreatMetrix in the United States and other countries. All other brand, service or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or owners.

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Beth Kempton
Walker Sands Communications
+1 (312) 241-1178
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Dan Rampe
ThreatMetrix
(408) 200-5716
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