WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN) - From the federal government to massive retailers, data breaches have become more prevalent in the last few years, and academic institutions haven't been immune.
"You think about college campuses, they are rich with data, right? So the obvious, you have student data, people coming and going to school for the first time and they're registering for classes and they've got all this information they have to give the institution. That's all very valuable data to cyber criminals and the like," said Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Kaiser says that frequent information exchange -- plus data from things like medical research, and other scientific contracts -- can make these institutions a big target. and some, are only just catching up to that idea.
"They may not always be aware of how much data they have. and that starts with any kind of organization looking at, 'What is the data we have on this campus, what are the crown jewels of that data, and what are we doing to protect it?" Kaiser said.
As students head back to campus, it's on individuals to not only protect themselves, but also their institution's network.
"It starts at the very basic level of every user who's accessing a network - simple things like software patches, strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, which is a way to have something in addition to a password. that should be implemented at almost every college campus at this point," Kaiser said.
Kaiser also says parents back home can help by keeping lines of communication open -- and making students aware of any breaches to a bank, insurance company, or anywhere else the family does business.
Also -- reminding students to check their credit cards, credit reports, and bank accounts regularly for signs of fraud.