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Due to research and development projects on cutting edge topics, student information being stored, the education sector is a prime target to both organised crime groups as well as nation state threat actors.

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Although threats vary based on the educational organisation, cyberattacks on schools, universities or other education associated businesses are on the rise. The assets under threat may vary for each of these businesses. For instance, a school may need to ensure the iPads/devices allotted to pupils with Wireless and Internet enabled access must be restrictive in nature. An unintentional download of malware or infections present risk to the school environment.

Higher education/Universities involved in research and scientific projects may fall victim to spear-phishing campaigns targeted at specific individuals. Therefore, risks require evaluation based on the threats and what data is vulnerable. 

Challenges - Education Sector

Like any other business, without adequate resources or expertise it's difficult to set the right culture of a cybersecurity aware organisation. With cybercrime on the rise, protecting your most prized assets has never been more important. As technologies advance and traditional network boundaries fade, it's important that a balanced approach of security and usability is deployed in the education sector.

Phishing, ransomware and lack of security awareness have been the top three security issues exploited time and again by criminals. All three of these are low cost, high returns yielding attacks making it an easy business opportunity for crime groups and nation state actors. 

Main challenges observed in the education sector are:

  • Without discussing resources and/or budgets, how often is management interested in hearing about the cyber risk profile of your organisation?
  • What awareness and involvement levels are demonstrated by your management around the Data Protection Act and GDPR measures?
  • How are you tackling the challenges presented by BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) culture common in universities/schools?
  • With IT staff already feeling stretched and under-skilled for security, do you validate your new projects, implementations and current assets from third party?
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Are you prepared?

What systems and controls are in place to decrease insider threats?

Insider threats are counted amongst the most significant cyber-risks in the financial services sector. Businesses tackling this issue regularly validate their controls around logical access controls, spear-phishing, threat intelligence and regular penetration testing. In addition to technical controls, staff awareness and understanding through training helps build security-conscious culture.

Are you aware if necessary controls are in place to protect from say, a spoofing attack ?

A threat actor attempts to obtain financial or other sensitive information about your clients from third parties by impersonating as your firm either through emails or a phone call. This is possible by posing as a lender or clients who are just as likely to hack into your firm’s systems to steal client monies sitting, awaiting completion. This is possible by accessing and altering email correspondence between the client and their solicitor so that funds are redirected.

How do you process and store personal data of your clients?

The loss of client information can have a devastating impact on a sector that has confidentiality at the heart of its business. Firms storing sensitive information, third party data, transactional records are likely to be at a higher risk of data breach than a local high street firm. Therefore, it goes without doubt that secure information storage and processing practices would help minimise the attack surface.

Is your business prepared to defend against targeted attacks?

Spear phishing attack is usually personalized. Hackers normally include some personal data in the phishing emails, such as the name of the victim, their role in the company or even (for a personal touch) their phone number. The reason for this is to gain their confidence and, therefore, obtain the information they need to compromise the corporate network and access the confidential data they are looking for.

Is your business resilient to ransomware attacks?

Ransomware has quickly become one of the most dangerous cybercrime threats organisations are facing . Over the past two years, the number of organizations being hit with targeted ransomware attacks has multiplied as the number of gangs carrying out these attacks has proliferated. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that you will get access to your data and threat actors may assume that you would be open to paying ransoms in the future

Sector Experience

This section refers to specific project-based experience in education sector.

Key benefits

✔ M&A Due Diligence for a leading education sector software developer

✔ Wireless Security Assessments

✔ Web Application Security Assessments (Staff and Student Portals)

✔ University wide Transformation Projects (Oracle, AIX)

✔ Internal Infrastructure involving password reviews, patching, and active directory security policy reviews

Discuss your security concerns. Call us.
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A-level students at risk from scammers


Students waiting for their A-level results are at risk of being scammed as universities are not blocking fraudulent emails, cybersecurity experts warn. 65% of the UK’s top 20 universities are not using appropriate email authentication tools

Hackers beat university cyber-defences in two hours


A test of UK university defences against cyber-attacks found that in every case hackers were able to obtain "high-value" data within two hours. They were able to access personal data, finance systems and research networks. University research projects have been major hacking targets, with more than 1,000 cyber-attacks last year.