Prevent identity theft
Issue date: 2/1/08 Section: Campus Eye
The first step in the case of such a crime is to notify local security at Drexel, according to D'Ovidio.
In the case of a computer-related crime, where the information resources of the university may have been involved, D'Ovidio recommended that students contact Drexel security. "If it is because of a data breach, then there is a reason for alarm," D'Ovidio said.
The example of such a breach, which occurred at Drexel several years ago when the information of several employees was compromised, shows that students are constantly at risk regarding identity theft.
"Pennsylvania has mandatory notification in law. That means that providers, the people that hold certain types of identifying information on individuals, whether it's a corporation, an educational institution, a government agency-if those data are accessed without authorization, under certain conditions, it's mandatory that those people whose identities were accessed without authorization are notified by the organization that suffered the breach," D'Ovidio said.
D'Ovidio said that it is difficult to say put a number on the amount of cases of identity theft at universities per year, mainly because of the amounts of time which may pass before individuals realize they have been victimized. D'Ovidio added that the "family" of identity theft crimes is also very broad and contributes to the difficulty in determining the number of cases per year.
According to D'Ovidio, a college can suffer along with the students victimized, though not necessarily directly. "When you talk about institutions falling victim, it's not that they are directly victims, it's that they are the means or targets to obtain large sets of identifiers," D'Ovidio said.
According to Murugan Anandarajan, a professor in the department of Management Information Systems at Drexel, there are a few simple measures students can take to prevent identity theft crimes.
Anandarajan advised against using simple passwords, such as "password," or "admin," for login information. Anandarajan also suggested that students update their software every 30 days, and use anti-virus and anti-phishing software. When using public computers, students should delete their cookie information, sites they visited, and any other settings they may have put up. Anandarajan also warned against visiting unfamiliar websites.
"Let's say you're walking down the street in the middle of the night. You'd make sure it was well-lit, or that you were with friends. You wouldn't walk down a dark alley alone. It's the same thing with identity theft. You shouldn't visit a site you're not aware of," Anandarajan said.