Importance of Cybersecurity within Education Security why because College campuses are open environments where a wide variety of stakeholders, devices, applications, and even networks intersect to achieve the goal of excellence in higher education.
Digitizing the institution unlocks productivity and enhances collaboration by allowing users to communicate using technology they are already familiar with in their personal lives. It also enables a transition from a classroom-centric to student-centric model of education.
This digital picture does have its share of cyber thorns. Digital transformation of academia has been accompanied by an increase in cyberattacks against colleges across the world, with severe consequences. The UK alone reports 12 DDoS attacks per week against colleges; a targeted campaign by threat actors stole over $3 billion in intellectual property from 300 universities; a university paid over
$1 million as a ransom to attackers to recover access to its data.
Why Colleges Across the World Suffer Cyberattacks
While motives do vary, cyberattacks against colleges are largely driven by just one word: data. We repeatedly hear
that data is the new gold, and educational institutions have a lot of this digital gold. The types of data that colleges
- Sensitive personal data
- Academic records of staff and students
Financial information of the institution and many stakeholders, including parents
- Medical information, such as blood group, disabilities, and allergies
- Research data
- Intellectual property
Cyberattackers can monetize the stolen data directly, by demanding a ransom or selling the data on the dark web; or
indirectly, through identity theft.
Types of Cyberattacks against Colleges
Phishing: Phishing is a form of social engineering where the victim is misled into performing an action that is prejudicial to their or their organisation’s best interests, such as providing access to unauthorized users, altering records, sharing confidential information, or approving fraudulent transactions.
Ransomware: Ransomware offers an easy way for attackers to monetize their attacks, which makes it very popular with threat actors
Denial of Service: Denial of Service (DoS) or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are likely to be carried out to cause disruption
by blocking access to the institution’s IT assets.
Business Email Compromise (BEC): A variant of phishing that particularly targets business email accounts to increase the appearance of authenticity,
this attack can be used for direct monetary gain through mis-appropriate of funds or to cause reputation damage as described in our discussion on digital campuse’s.
Website Defacement: Website defacement attacks are on the rise because they are relatively easy to accomplish and can have a large impact due to a college’s website having both high external traffic and captive internal audience. The primary motives for such attacks are reputation loss, propaganda, and distribution of malicious code.
Every device that connects to your organisation’s network is an endpoint, and every endpoint has to be secured with
a carrier-class cybersecurity solution like K7 Endpoint Security (K7 EPS) and Other recommends brands by Fortuler. The solutions should be easy to deploy and manage, support rapid rollout, and not impact device or network performance.
Training and Awareness
Colleges and Universities should require end users to go through training that covers what phishing is and how to recognize it. There are companies dedicated to providing this service, and institutions of higher learning must be willing to invest the time and resources necessary to properly educate their faculties and staff.
The training should be repeated on a relatively regular basis and should expose users to a diverse range of phishing attacks. Providing examples of real attacks and creating a repository for such attacks, as Princeton University has done with its “Phish Bowl” can also boost awareness.
The extent of cybersecurity training required will vary across your organisation’s hierarch as roles, responsibilities, and access to sensitive resources expose users to different levels of risk. However, all staff should be trained on the fundamentals of cyber hygiene, including
• Creating strong passwords that are not reused or recycled
• Ensuring physical security of IT assets
• Identifying phishing attacks
• Verifying the bona fides of a message or sender
• Exercising caution before opening an attachment or clicking a link
• Precautions to be followed on mobile devices
• Essentials of network security for those who might need to work from home
• Whom to contact if a cyberattack is noticed
Cybersecurity refresher courses should also be conducted periodically to ensure that all users are aware of your organisation’s cybersecurity policy, their responsibilities, and defensive measures against the latest cyberthreats.
Fortuler Security’s Solutions for Educational Institutions
Endpoint Security – Our recommended or suggested Endpoint Security solutions are multi-layered protection, heuristic malware detection, ransomware protection, and a dedicated firewall to help defend the growing number of connected devices within organizations against cyberattacks
Network Security – Our Unified Threat Management (UTM), VPN Concentrator, and SD-WAN devices provide enhanced network security and secure connectivity between branch offices, headquarters, and the cloud
Our offering solutions are recognized across the world for 24×7 enterprise cyber protection. Learn more write to [email protected]