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Rising College Tuition: Add Cyber Security Costs

As students move into dorms and classes get underway at colleges and universities across the country, parents and students are dealing with rising tuition. One surprising item that’s contributing to higher costs—cyber security.

A good example is Rutgers University, the target of multiple cyber attacks over the past year. In response, the university hired FishNet Security, Level 3 Communications and Imperva, according to NJ.com, at a cost of up to $3 million over the next year. That cost is being passed along to students.

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"We had some serious intrusions into our IT system, so we are in fact budgeting more money for IT security this year," said Nancy Winterbauer, Rutgers vice president for university budgeting. "There are insurance costs, things of that sort, things that you can't avoid. So, they drive up our costs."

A partial list of college and university data breaches in 2015 points to the magnitude of the problem:

  • University of Virginia
  • University of Connecticut
  • Harvard University
  • Penn State
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Maine

Penn State also turned to security firms following data breaches. “Moving forward, we all will need to take additional steps to protect ourselves, our identities and our information from a new global wave of cybercrime and cyberespionage,” said President Eric Barron in a letter to the college.  ”As we have seen in the news over the past two years, well-funded and highly skilled cyber criminals have become brazen in their attacks on a wide range of businesses and government agencies, likely in search of sensitive information and intellectual property.”

And, according to Forbes, Barron noted that all colleges and universities are stepping up cyber protection. “This new threat must be faced head-on, not just by Penn State but by every large university, business and government the world over. This is a new era in the digital age, one that will require even greater vigilance from everyone.”

And greater costs. Rutgers acknowledges that the initial outlay this year will be followed by permanent expenditures for security.

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