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Colleges and universities around the UK are facing a surge in cyber security attacks, such as ransomware and business email compromise (BEC).
Housing significant volumes of sensitive personal student and staff data, intellectual property and innovators of world-leading research, education institutions are a tempting target for cybercriminals.
In 2020, the pandemic resulted in a sudden shift to remote learning with schools, colleges and universities around the world closing their premises. With such an accelerated move to deliver learning and teaching remotely, along with the unique, frequent changing community of users, UK education institutions have become a persistent target with countless cases reported, disrupting services and infrastructure.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), warned institutions in September 2020, then again in February 2021, and also in June 2021, as they observed an alarming increase in ransomware attacks, further emphasising the urgency of organisations in the sector to be prepared for cyber-attacks and improve their cyber security.
Quorum Cyber are committed to ensuring the education sector is resilient against these evolving attacks and are proud to partner with educational establishments across the UK, to combat some of the biggest and unique challenges facing the sector.
The huge shift in normal teaching and learning practices, resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, along with the challenges of securing large volumes of data for a frequent changing community, shortage of cyber professionals and resources, and budget constraints can be extremely overwhelming.
Securing and housing large volumes of data
UK Education establishments hold huge volumes of intellectual property and sensitive data, further exposed with data increasingly held on devices outside of educational premises.
Large student populations connecting to networks
A vast and frequently changing community makes ensuring network access is granted appropriately, difficult. Just one compromised credential can allow an attacker to gain access.
Lack of asset visibility
In a time of uncertainty, systems to support remote learning and teachings has accelerated, and it can be difficult to maintain an understanding of all assets within your environment.
Highly targeted by threat actors
Attackers know when to target organisations, witnessed when attackers struck as education establishments geared up to welcome students back from an unprecedented situation.
Large number of endpoints
Widespread use of personal devices is common in Educational institutions. This, along with the new remote teaching practices presents further challenges in securing your wider network.
Difficult to train students on security best practice
Good security awareness among staff and students is key. High turnover of students and evolving use of technology to work or teach remotely, presents additional challenges.
Lack of in-house cyber security skills and resource
The global cyber security skills gap means there is a shortage of professionals equipped to deal with the threats facing universities and colleges.
Minimal budgets for security
Facing increased financial pressures following the impact of COVID-19, higher education establishments are challenged to do more with less budget.