Cyber attacks are the biggest threat to universities, NCSC warns

Cyber attacks are one of the biggest threats to schools and universities in the long term; this was the conclusion after a detailed assessment and analysis by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The United Kingdom’s cyber-security agency has warned that the universities and colleges are a huge target for cyber terrorism and espionage. 

Universities, during admissions and then throughout the curriculum, have access to the majority of information which is highly valued and thus, there is an urgency to make the university firewalls and cyber-space more secure than ever. The universities possess the information as basic as your name to your social security number, mails, skills and courses you have been taking and so much more.

NCSC, in a statement, clarified that there are a lot of state-sponsored cyber attackers looking to steal valuable information, which can be further used for personal gains or could be sold for money. Since they would have access to emails, they can literally use it to penetrate the systems further.

According to Government Communication Headquarters, the targets are the world’s top universities which possess a lot of research data and universities actively under research programs. 

Certain government contracts and research projects are done by the universities and giving access to someone else may be against national security. Also, these attacks can destroy or steal away years of work and just publish it.

Cyber attacks on universities endanger national security 

The main concern in this issue is phishing, which is mostly used to access the login credentials of faculty, staff or students. Clicking on certain links may download malware into the devices and all the data will be stolen within a few seconds. 

Corporate employees receive training about such scams and frauds, but students have far less exposure to such issues. In the last year, various Iranian attacks were stopped which were being planned for years. When investigated, they told about the malware links, creating fake pages, websites.

With everything connected by computers today, it is important universities to employ strong firewalls and resist such attacks. As for the students, proper training should be provided to them, keeping them aware of such attacks.