Education Sector: It's Time For Universities To Learn Security Awareness
16 February 2018 00:00
In 2017, a staggering 13% of data breaches were targeted to the education sector. But what makes this sector such a huge target, and how can universities and colleges strengthen their cyber security?
What makes universities such a big target
Universities are a goldmine for cyber criminals. With their endless supply of research and development material, as well as mountains of personal data belonging to staff and students, there's serious money to be made from attacking the vulnerabilities of these institutes.
Despite the continuing investment in technology to better protect this information, there's still a huge element of user-focused risk. Students and employees are constantly overflowing with work and deadlines, making cyber security awareness among end-users a difficult task to enforce.
But, with 43% of IT leaders at UK universities claiming that hackers often target dissertations, exam results and intellectual property, can these higher educational institutes really afford to overlook the human factor of cyber security? After all, there's no shortage of cyber risks out there...
It's time to learn security awareness
Unintentional mistakes of poorly trained staff makes it easy for hackers to make their move. Even something as simple as a weak password could potentially “open the door” for a cyber criminal to walk right in and gain access to personal data, not mention people mistakenly leaving laptops and devices in libraries or on public transport.
undoubtedly the bigger threat is with targeted attacks. Most end-users aren't even aware of what threats such as "social engineering" are, yet these attacks are increasing by numbers year on year. Then there are techniques like phishing which, although becoming a bit more of a household name, are still a lot more sophisticated than the average end-user is aware of.
The days of receiving an awfully written email from a 'Nigerian Prince' asking for your personal details have slowly faded. Now, university staff are often targeted by "spear phishing" emails that appear to be from somebody they know and trust, with background information being cleverly used for added persuasion.
How to protect your end-users
Like with any organisation, it is vital for universities and colleges within the education sector to educate end-users around all of these cyber security risks. Regular training that covers all threats, from phishing emails to physical security, means that employees will be empowered with the ability to help stops user-focused attacks, without struggling to retain information.
Knowing your employees are prepared and focused on data security gives you the peace of mind and confidence that you are taking the right steps to prevent data breaches.
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