University Cybersecurity Breaches Doubled In Past Two Years With Hackers Targeting Research

The Times has reported that cyber criminals are launching hundreds of successful cyber attacks on British universities each year, targeting scientific, engineering and medical advances including research into missiles.

Cybersecurity breaches at institutions including Oxford, Warwick and University College London have doubled in the past two years to 1,152 in 2016-17, according to data released after freedom of information requests by The Times. Dr Anton Grashion, Managing Director, Security Practice at Cylance commented below.

Dr Anton Grashion, Managing Director, Security Practice at Cylance:

 “Universities are competing for the best students, and one of the areas that gives them a small competitive advantage is the flexibility in connecting students to their network and the Internet. Historically, universities have had a very open infrastructure for students with the ultimate in policies for ‘BYOD’ (Bring Your Own Device). However, what this also results in, is ‘BYOM’ (Bring Your Own Malware).

“Students’ laptops, as I am sure those of us with teenage children will attest, are usually the most riddled and infected systems in our families, generally due to the nature of their browsing habits, trusting nature and their lack of IT security awareness. Whether it is looking for streaming services while away from home, or looking for online resources or books to help with their studies, they may find themselves on insecure websites, which can result in them being open to having anything from adware or worse clandestinely delivered to their devices.

Therefore, it is no surprise that universities are suffering from an increase in security breaches, even with segregation of faculty and research networks. Their network environments are some of the most challenging networks to manage, with usually smaller security and staffing budgets.

“Cyber crime follows the usual criminal triumvirate of Means, Motive and Opportunity. Means and Motive are not difficult to discern or obtain to those engaged in this type of activity, and students and faculty at Universities provide a tempting and easily accessible Opportunity”

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