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Social Media Release:
WatchGuard Announces Top Threats to Education

SEATTLE (November 3, 2009) - WatchGuard Technologies

Highlights / News Facts:

Education-related Threats Expected to Rise - According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 25 percent of all cyber-security breaches involve schools, and although a majority of educators believe that their campus networks are more secure now than last year, WatchGuard predicts that significant breaches, vulnerabilities and threats will continue to plague schools and universities. WatchGuard deems the following to be the leading network, application and data threats to education:

  • Malware & Spyware - As students and faculty utilize the Web for education as well as entertainment purposes, many unwittingly expose themselves to drive-by downloads, or corrupted websites, which injects 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, e-mail remains to be one of the primary vectors for delivering viruses. Unfortunately, a recent survey showed that 27 percent of users fail to keep their antivirus signatures up to date. With viruses taking on innovative polymorphic properties, antivirus signatures alone may not be enough to stop the next wave of new viruses to come.
  • 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, which indicates that a majority of students are vulnerable to phishing scams.
  • Hacking - In a recent survey of education IT professionals, 23 percent ranked student hackers as one of their greatest threats to their network security. Whether the hacks are designed to alter grades or for more sinister purposes, student hackers continue to push the envelope for network and data protection.
  • Access Control - Usage of mobile devices and wireless access continues to plague network administrators. Concerns of thwarting unauthorized user access to education IT resources is top of mind with many administrators. As use of mobile devices escalates, schools will face increasing challenges in managing authorized network access.
  • 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 faculty, 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.
  • Because of the sensitive nature of student and faculty information, such as social security numbers, credit card information, and other personal identifying data at risk, WatchGuard recommends that schools and universities review their security controls and IT policies regularly to ensure they have the most effective, up-to-date security solutions in place.


Malware, Spyware, Viruses, Botnets, Phishing, Hacking, Access Control, Social Networks, WatchGuard


  • "With so much at risk and so much to gain by cybercriminals, today's campus is one of the most dangerous IT environments around," said Eric Aarrestad, Vice President at WatchGuard Technologies. "Unlike enterprise organizations 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 school's IT resources."

About WatchGuard Technologies, Inc.
Since 1996, WatchGuard® Technologies, Inc. has been the advanced technology leader of network security solutions, providing mission-critical security to hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide. The WatchGuard family of wired and wireless unified threat management appliances and WatchGuard SSL VPN remote access solutions provide extensible network security, unparalleled network visibility, management and control. WatchGuard products are backed by WatchGuard LiveSecurity® Service, an innovative support, maintenance, and education program. WatchGuard is headquartered in Seattle and has offices serving North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. To learn more, visit

WatchGuard is a registered trademark of WatchGuard Technologies, Inc. All other marks are property of their respective owners.

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