cyber attacks on colleges and universities

Professor David Maguire is chair of Jisc, appointed in May 2015. He noted that colleges in particular face difficult security challenges. “Universities absolutely don’t want to take down their systems at the beginning of classes,” he said. Cyber crime is hard to see and touch, it’s growing fast and universities are especially exposed to its impacts, as the recent publication of a report by the NCSC shows. This attack also affected 70 other institutions in the region, including the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Cambridge. Schreiber said taking systems off-line could serve a couple of purposes. How many senior leaders know what these are and what risks each poses to their organisation? This is a very serious, highly technical and rapidly evolving topic and, while some university and college leaders are confident they have a high-level executive view of cyber security, many are concerned that they need to know more. Recovering from a ransomware attack can take over a week, even after purchasing an encryption key to unlock content, said Phipps. As mentioned, I have a bit of experience of cyber security and cyber crime. David Maguire. By exploiting a software vulnerability, the attackers were able to gain access to college systems and start creating fake student accounts for malicious purposes. At the University of Connecticut, student Social Security numbers and credit card data were taken. Such ransomware attacks on universities have become common. #thisisregis #JesuitEducated pic.twitter.com/hTGLA8MjkW. Creative Commons attribution information. It’s time to take state-sponsored cyber attackers seriously, Foxing the phishers remains a constant dog fight, From the battlefield to the boardroom, influence and teamwork are key to building information security, The fight against phishing: free new tool stops spoofing, Libraries, learning resources and research, Required all staff to undertake General Data Protection Regulation (, Moved all at-risk IT systems under central control, Increased the level of password protection, Acquired specific cyber crime insurance cover, Added a cyber security risk to our risk register. He added that off-site backup and recovery solutions are vital to restoring systems -- and institutions should regularly test their recovery plans to ensure they can get back online quickly. Universities and colleges are being warned by the UK's cyber-security agency that rising numbers of cyber-attacks are threatening to disrupt the start … Second, taking systems off-line can simplify the recovery process when an institution enacts its disaster-recovery plans,” he said in an email. “Although our investigation of the incidence is ongoing, at this point we have no reason to believe that employee or student data was compromised as a result of the attack.”. Last month, Dundee and Angus College experienced an attack that shut down IT systems and resulted in the college closing for four days. Cybersecurity challenges abound in higher education. The top risks for educational institutions include phishing, harassment, ransomware, IP theft (piracy), account hacking, credit card fraud and denial of service attacks. 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Institutions of higher learning should get ahead of potential cyber problems by educating everyone. “It surely could be coincidental, but my gut is telling me it isn’t,” said Michael Corn, chief information security officer at the University of California, San Diego. BA will also be aware of the reputational and brand damage associated with the breach, and potential litigation. A new indictment asserts a long string of attacks against hundreds of universities and private companies, in which Iran pilfered more than $3 billion worth of intellectual property. While none of the institutions reported what they were asked to pay, a report by the Inside Higher Ed news site noted all three schools were targeted using malicious software known as NetWalker and given a … Adam Mudd was also prosecuted for cyber attacks against his college. Find out more about our cyber security offering or join us in Newcastle for the Jisc security conference 2019 on 5-6 November 2019. Many senior university leaders and board members are increasingly worried about the rising threat of cyber security attacks. In 2016, Greenwich had two security breaches that were of sufficient seriousness that they needed to be reported to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). However, the consequences for the university were significant. Recent high-profile examples include attacks to Marriott and British Airways (BA). A new Wi-Fi network was successfully deployed Aug. 21. Unlike retailers, whose information typically includes credit card numbers and other customer statistics, This is where Geopolitical objectives might come into play. Browse all jobs on Inside Higher Ed Careers », We are retiring comments and introducing Letters to the Editor. The attack on the university’s computer system, which occurred in late December, jeopardized the financial data of more than 80,000 people, including students, faculty, alumni and vendors. “We understand this has been disruptive to normal daily operations. The US Department of Education recently announced that hackers breached 62 colleges and universities across the country. Cyber security attacks have emerged as one of the most significant threats to universities and colleges in recent years. Attackers focus on PeopleSoft system. Cabrillo notified 40,000 students whose personal information compromised and offered them a year’s membership to a credit monitoring and identify protection service. Unfortunately, this type of incident is increasingly common, which is why we are working diligently to protect and restore our systems as safely as possible.”, Fitzgibbons said IT staff detected an “external malicious threat that likely originated outside the country” and “as a matter of precaution and in order to fully investigate the potential issue, we proactively shut down our IT systems, including phones, email and our website.”. Jennifer Forker, director of communications at Regis, said it is still too soon to know the nature of the attack. Oracle’s PeopleSoft is a system that is broadly used by colleges and universities. Thania Benios, director of public relations at Stevens, said in an email that the cyberattack had involved ransomware, but the quick actions of Stevens’s IT staff prevented the need to respond to any ransom demand. Among the most common impacts reported to the survey were that attacks stopped staff from working and required additional staff time and extra money to recover. Alert issued to UK universities and colleges about spike in cyber attacks Original 106 Aberdeen 03:46. Essay on lessons learned from the start of a college teaching career, Live Updates: Latest News on Coronavirus and Higher Education, Social Mobility at Comprehensive Public Universities, New federal data show what high school students seek in a college, Minority-serving colleges top peers in economic mobility, report finds, Trump Commutes Sentence of Man Accused of Bribing Penn, Report: Biden 'Poised' to Pick Connecticut Schools Chief as Education Secretary. In March 2018, well over 300 universities worldwide were victims of an organized cyber attack that compromised 31 terabytes of data. Schools and universities on alert following ‘reprehensible’ rise in cyber-attacks. Next year, cyber attacks aimed at personal information increased dramatically. Two universities suffered devastating cyberattacks just before students returned to campus. On Aug. 20, the university announced that critical systems such as email and the student information system had been restored. Alert issued to universities about spike in cyber attacks Sky News 03:42. Jared Phipps, vice president of worldwide sales engineering for cybersecurity company SentinelOne, agreed that taking everything off-line is “not something that an institution would ideally do,” but it may be the best solution given limited budgets and staff. “We understand there have been questions about data security,” wrote Nariman Farvardin, president of Stevens, in a letter to the campus Aug. 18. “The start of the school year is an exceptionally busy time for schools, and the hackers may assume their activities would go unnoticed at this time when staff are otherwise preoccupied,” said Corn. The first deal of cyber criminals in Higher Education was an attack on Yale’s system in 2002 by hackers from Princeton University. The malicious software then encrypts and blocks access to computer files that the user has permission to access. Higher education institutions face unique threats in their data security. Although it is clear that the information breaches occurred, there is no evidence that people were directly affected in any material way. Newcastle University were one of the recent victims of a ransomware attack, which impacted services across the whole university. “I want to sincerely thank you for your continued patience and grace as our IT teams work with third-party forensics experts and law enforcement to investigate and resolve this situation,” Fitzgibbons wrote. In late 2016, an attack exposed employee social security and bank account … This spring, Michigan State University, Columbia College Chicago and University of California, San Francisco and all experienced similar ransomware attacks over a two-week window. Monroe College, a for-profit institution in New York City, was asked just last month to pay a ransom of around $2 million in bitcoin to restore access to the college’s website, learning management system and email. Universities and further education colleges in NI suffered 16 serious cyber-attacks in 2017/18 compared to three the year before. This was not the first serious cyber security problem for the university, which has repeatedly proven to be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Adam Mudd was also prosecuted for cyber attacks against his college. The combination of employee and student personal and financial information, confidential data such as medical records, and commercially desirable research combined with the cultural openness of higher education has made Colleges and Universities prime targets. Regis is not the only university to suffer from a crippling cyberattack just before the start of the new academic year. We use cookies to give you the best experience and to help improve our website, by Colleges and universities are prime cyber attack targets Thursday, March 10, 2016. Training alone may not solve the entire problem, but it is still critical to provide people with general cybersecurity best practices. while some university and college leaders are confident they have a high-level executive view of cyber security, many are concerned that they need to know more. In summary, it is clear that cyber security is a critical business risk for universities and colleges, so it is vitally important that senior executive teams and governing bodies have a grasp of its significance and take appropriate actions to avoid becoming a victim. Do you have a good understanding of cyber security threats and their potential impact? "Hopefully soon," she said. “Victims of attacks like ransomware often focus on containing the damage and returning to normal operations as quickly as possible rather than conducting a detailed (and expensive) investigation into how the attack occurred,” he said. Classes began as scheduled Aug. 26. University College London, one of the world's leading universities, has been hit by a major cyber-attack. Washington State University and Johns Hopkins University were also the target of attacks. Finally, we had to upscale our technology, training, insurance, auditing and general awareness, which consumed a lot of resources and directly impacted staff right across the organisation. Universities and colleges are being warned of a rising number of cyber attacks that could threaten the start of term. All this is a major distraction for companies, impacting their overall strategic aims and objectives – something we should all consider when drafting resilience and business continuity plans. British universities and colleges have been warned about a spike in ransomware attacks targeting the education sector by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ. That month, Oberlin College (Ohio), Grinnell College (Iowa), and Hamilton College (New York) fell victim to cyber attacks that compromised student application data. “I don’t think these criminals are particularly targeting colleges, but [colleges] do have a lot of computing power, a lot of openness in their networks and a lot of people accessing data. A cyber-risk framework is a necessary component for colleges and universities to be able to connect securely to virtual systems within a safe and supportive educational setting. It’s surprising, actually, that you don’t hear about it more. Have you considered adding cyber security to your risk register? “We’re not going to let some technology hiccups get in the way of welcoming the Class of 2023 to Regis in style,” they tweeted Friday. No organisation today is immune from the threat of cyber attacks. Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) which conducted the survey by examining around 850 attacks in 2017-18 concluded that most of the incidents were conducted by either staff or … we had to upscale our technology, training, insurance, auditing and general awareness. This attack also affected 70 other institutions in the region, including the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Cambridge. The Stevens Institute of Technology reported on Aug. 10 that it was the victim of a “very severe and sophisticated” cyberattack. Cyber security attacks have emerged as one of the most significant threats to universities and colleges in recent years. It is possible, but it’s challenging.”. She doesn't know when the university will be back online. "By preventing users from interacting with the systems, IT teams can more easily perform tasks like data recovery, bulk password resets and testing of new security protocols.”. Taking a step back for a moment, universities and colleges are at high risk of such threats because they typically have open, permissive, and highly distributed IT systems. In the case of the BA data breach, some 380,000 credit card transactions were taken and the initial fine was £183m. A 2017 cyber attack at Cabrillo College in California last year was a wake-up call, says Irvin Lemus, a computer information systems professor who specializes in cyber security. Ransomware is often installed after an unwitting victim clicks on a fraudulent link in a phishing email. Cyber attacks can be catastrophic events, potentially causing weeks of disruption and incurring heavy costs, not to mention the reputational damage. Looking beyond just financial gain, there are a number of other reasons why cyber attacks are hitting education institutions more frequently. it is clear that cyber security is a critical business risk for universities and colleges, so it is vitally important that senior executive teams and governing bodies have a grasp of its significance. Informed by my experience of two significant data breaches at the University of Greenwich, where I am vice-chancellor, this blog describes the most significant cyber security risks and offers advice for senior leaders and board members about how to mitigate cyber threats and the potential impact. Is it worth investing in cyber insurance? Cyber attacks on higher education institutions are on the rise across the globe, with multiple, unconnected attacks hitting the headlines in the last couple of weeks. The start of the new academic year can be a challenging time on any college campus, but the start of the fall term at Regis University was unlike any other. Students of all ages are increasingly receiving their education in digital formats, particularly at the college level. Colleges face evolving cyber extortion threat. A recent cyber attack at the University of California, Berkeley is just one of many recent security threats on higher education institutions. Educational institutions house enormous amounts of data including personally identifiable information (PII) that is often targeted in attacks. view more headlines . Hackers specifically target universities for the sensitive information stored in their systems. Mudd admitted to attacking West Herts College, where he was a computer science student. These systems have very large numbers of users and deal with very valuable and sensitive information. This article explores the cybersecurity threats that the higher education space faces, as well as a range of solutions that can help colleges and universities combat future attacks. Firstly, students at Lancaster University fell victim to a phishing attack, with fraudulent invoices sent to a number of students who had applied to join the university. The problem has become acute enough to warrant the publication of cybersecurity guidance for universities and colleges by the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently. In the face of adversity [and no internet], Rangers carry on! Colleges Toughen Cyber Defenses as Hacking Threats Linger Sept. 20, 2015 02:21 "For a university that's understaffed and under-resourced, it can be a … Over 500 US schools were hit by ransomware in 2019. “While we’ve seen a shift where ransomware attacks have become more targeted and planned, we haven’t seen a broader campaign targeting universities during the fall return to campus,” he said. The line between financially motivated attacks and … Have all your staff been trained in information security and cyber security? “It’s not just colleges that are being targeted -- if you’re online, you’re in the crossfire,” said Phipps. The ramifications of cyber attacks in the education sector should not be underestimated FE News.co.uk 16:48 10-Sep-20. She acknowledged there are some challenges, but said things are running "pretty smoothly" on campus. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, said there has been a spike in attacks over the summer months. Christian Schreiber, solutions architect at cybersecurity company FireEye, said there are a couple of reasons why universities might choose to disable their own networks and systems after a cyberthreat is detected. Higher education institutions, police departments and city governments have all made the news in recent months because of high-profile ransomware attacks. “I do have some sympathy for these institutions,” said Phipps. — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues her tour of the Carolinas … As a senior leader it may be helpful to consider the following questions when assessing cyber security risks: It’s also worth reading the NCSC's information for board members. Higher education institutions, police departments and city governments have all made the news in recent months because of high-profile ransomware attacks. While most media attention is focused on cyber-attacks against financial institutions, airports, and government entities, colleges and universities are highly desirable targets for bad actors. In the aftermath of these data breaches we took a number of specific actions: Similar problems also occur in the corporate world and over the course of the past 18 months, some of the biggest, most widespread, data breaches in the history of the Internet have hit the headlines. On Twitter, the university’s social media managers remained upbeat. The department identified 62 colleges or universities hit by the cyberattack. The university, a private institution in Hoboken, N.J., known for the strength of its cybersecurity program, remained off-line for a week. In 2003, there were several attacks directed on … The company says that its researchers over the last few months, evaluated over 3.5 million spear-phishing attacks executed on various sectors, and it was found that over 1,000 schools, colleges, and universities in India were affected. These attacks are typically coming from criminal groups in China, Vietnam and Eastern Europe, he said. The breach of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) database caused the loss of nearly 800,000 records of faculty and staff, parents and student applicants. Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting universities with ransomware attacks and academic institutions are being urged to make sure their networks are … It is not known whether the Regis cyberattack also involved ransomware, but if it did, it could represent a worrying trend of criminals targeting colleges while they are busy preparing to welcome new students. Cabrillo notified 40,000 students whose personal information compromised and offered them a year’s membership to a credit monitoring and identify protection service. Dealing with cyber security threats to universities and colleges, (If you're a human, don't change the following field), ‘VLE success is not about tech, it’s about practice and people’, Reflecting on 2020 – and getting ready for 2021, Let’s ‘build back better’ on post-COVID digital transformation, If we don’t upskill teachers in digital skills, learners will suffer, How institutional repositories support the transition to open research - and reduce admin burden for librarians. Mudd’s explanation for one of his attacks is that the college had not acted when he had reported that he had been mugged. Temporary phone lines have also been established to respond to students' questions and concerns. “Defending a university whilst maintaining openness is difficult. For one, cutting edge research takes place in universities, and the theft, manipulation, or destruction of such data is potentially another motivation for hackers. The institution has … Have you commissioned an honest and detailed independent assessment of your vulnerability to cyber security threats? While we most often hear about breaches suffered by retailers, financial institutions and, since the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack in … The institution has not said whether it chose to pay the ransom. A target of the espionage was information on the admission decisions. Secondly, we had to respond quickly to ensure that similar breaches did not occur again. “Unless, of course, the goal itself is disruption, in which case this would be one of the most damaging times to launch an attack.”. Colleges and universities have been strongly urged to take the increasing threat of cyber attacks seriously, as students return to campuses across the UK. Cybercriminals successfully targeted three colleges and universities using ransom tactics new to higher … But students are nonetheless raising serious questions, including whether exams will be delayed and how they should pay tuition. He did not share any further details on the nature of the attack. Cyberattacks have caused major disruption in colleges across the UK over the past couple of years. A 2017 cyber attack at Cabrillo College in California last year was a wake-up call, says Irvin Lemus, a computer information systems professor who specializes in cyber security. Is the timing a coincidence? Colleges and Universities are Prime Cyber Attack Targets Cutting edge research has made Higher Education a prime target. A 2007 hack exposed information including the social security numbers of up to 3,000 staff members as well as 400 state credit card numbers used for school purchases. Colleges and Universities are Prime Cyber Attack Targets Cutting edge research has made Higher Education a prime target. UK colleges and universities are suffering from unprecedented ransomware attacks, as students return to campuses. Be the first to know.Get our free daily newsletter. What do new projections of high school graduates mean for colleges and universities? In 2019 alone, 89 U.S. universities, colleges and school districts became victims of such attacks… Thirdly, we made rapid changes to digital policy, access and training and restricted rights that inconvenienced and annoyed some people. Firstly, we were fined a substantial sum (£120k, reduced to £96k for early repayment). Cyber crime is hard to see and touch, it’s growing fast and universities are especially exposed to its impacts. The department identified 62 colleges or universities hit by the cyberattack. Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has clearly stated that cyber security is one of the major business risks to organisations, not least because cyber crime is ubiquitous and growing rapidly. Anticipating Cyberattacks on College and University Campuses By // Volume 23, Number 7 // Special Issue 2015 You need to login with AGB member credentials to view this content. Hackers can then demand payment for an encryption key. Mudd admitted to attacking West Herts College, where he was a computer science student. In a statement on the college’s website, principal Grant Ritchie said staff had “worked around the clock to get the college up and running again”. Similar hacking attempts at colleges and universities … Universities have been targeted in the past with disruption campaigns such as denial-of-service attacks during peak periods such as class registration or final exams, said Schreiber. They’re in a prime environment to be affected by these attacks.”. In the last 7 days. on 25 September 2019. Monroe College, a for-profit institution in New York City, was asked just last month to pay a ransom of around $2 million in bitcoin to restore access to the college’s website, learning management system and email. IT staff at Regis are working “around the clock” to get things back to normal, John P. Fitzgibbons, president of the university, said in a letter to the campus last week posted on a temporary website created to provide students' updates on the outage. By March 2019, things had not improved. The damage from these cyber attacks can be far-reaching. Students arrived at the private university in Denver to find the institution's internet, email, phones and website shut down following the discovery of a cyberthreat last Thursday. “Adopting multifactor authentication for remote access can drastically reduce exposure to outside attackers,” said Schreiber. Fifteen US school districts, accounting for 100 schools, were hit in the past two weeks alone. Ben Woelk, information security office program manager at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said the decision to disable networks and systems is not taken lightly but is sometimes essential to prevent the spread of an attack and carefully analyze other systems to ensure they aren’t vulnerable. In the aftermath, BA not only had to deal with the financial costs of investigating the breach, but the cost of additional security (eg penetration testers, consultants, security vendors, public relations and legal advice). UK Top Stories . Cyber attacks on universities also occur frequently not because the systems lack protections, but because they are so large and complex that implementing those protections becomes difficult. 17 Sep 11:14. 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