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Access control challenges to face educational networks in 2010

WatchGuard Technologies : 28 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
WatchGuard has made some predictions on the most significant threats to affect educational IT networks in 2010 with increased use of mobile devices contributing to the significant challenge of network access control
With education-related cyber-security threats expected to rise in 2010, WatchGuard Technologies is predicting the top threats facing schools, colleges and universities.

WatchGuard will be at the Bett show in January featuring its latest family of unified threat management appliances, secure remote access solutions and messaging and content security. This will include the new WatchGuard XCS (eXtensible Content Security) platform that combines innovative cloud-based security, data loss prevention and advanced messaging security in a single, easy to use appliance.

"Unlike enterprise organisations that can throw substantial resources towards network and data protection, schools and universities are more constrained, yet they face some of the most demanding security challenges due to the dynamic interaction between students and their IT resources," said Vinod Chamdal, UK sales manager for WatchGuard.

WatchGuard's Top Threats include:

* Social Networks - The number one threat to school and university networks is social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace. Unfortunately, social networks act as an ideal platform to launch a myriad of attacks against students and departments, including spam, viruses, malware, phishing and more. Adding to this, socially engineered attacks are often extremely successful due to the "trusted" environment that social networks create.

* Malware & Spyware - As students and teachers use the web for education purposes, many unwittingly expose themselves to drive-by downloads or corrupted websites, which inject malicious forms of software on their computers. Once infected, they risk becoming victims of identity theft or loss of personal information via spyware and keyloggers.

* Viruses - Today, email remains one of the primary ways for delivering viruses. Recent surveys suggest that 27 percent of users fail to keep their antivirus signatures which may, in any case, be unable to up stop the new generation of viruses with polymorphic properties.

* Botnets - It has been estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all school and university computers connected to the Internet may be part of a botnet. As part of a botnet, school and university systems may be used in a variety of unknown exploits, including spam delivery, denial of service attacks, click-fraud, identity theft and more.

* Phishing - Phishing scams continue to get more sophisticated and selective, with students being specifically targeted. A recent report states that phishing attacks via social networks achieve a success rate of over 70 percent.

* Hacking - In a recent survey of education IT professionals, 23 percent ranked student hackers as one of their greatest threats to network security.

* Access Control - Usage of mobile devices and wireless access to education IT resources continues to plague network administrators. As use of mobile devices escalates, schools will face increasing challenges in managing authorized network access.

"Schools and universities who review their security controls and IT policies ensure their staff and students benefit from the most effective, up-to-date security solutions," said Bordan Tkachuk, CEO at Viglen. "WatchGuard's unified appliances provide an ideal and cost effective approach by delivering single integrated solutions to address the growing range of sophisticated threats and vulnerabilities."

"The combination of Viglen's experience in the education market and our IT security technology and expertise puts us in a strong position to support this growing market and we look forward to further developing and extending our partnership in 2010," adds WatchGuard's Vinod Chamdal.
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