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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Preventing identity theft at colleges and universities

ELCA colleges and universities are taking steps to prevent identity theft, making it more difficult for computer “hackers” to access students’ personal information, especially their Social Security numbers.

Colleges and universities have become attractive targets for hackers who take advantage of the openness of their networks, their decentralized security and the information they keep. Database breaches have taken place recently at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Texas, Austin; Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; and Western Illinois University, Macomb.

Lenoir-Rhyne College
, Hickory, N.C., protects data by monitoring systems for unusual activity and limiting access and distribution of sensitive data, said Karl Byas, the school’s information technology director. “Security is never a final product,” he added. “It is a big concern here.”

Faculty, staff and students at Texas Lutheran, Seguin, protect their computer passwords by making them more “robust” and harder to guess, said William Senter, the university’s director of information technology.

While at St. Olaf, Northfield, Minn., it’s mandatory for everyone to change their passwords every six months, said Roberta Lembke, the college’s director of information and instructional technologies.


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