Article

Cybersecurity challenges for educational institutions

Understanding threats and implementing strategies to mitigate risks

Sep 20, 2017

Cybersecurity threats are rising in all industries, as hackers target organizations of all sizes to access sensitive data for financial gain, political motivations and other nefarious reasons. Unfortunately, educational institutions are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the necessarily open nature of their technology architecture. In addition, schools often have limited funding, thereby dictating a stronger focus on keeping systems up and running rather than protecting environments.

Cyberattacks can have significant effects on an educational institution, from financial losses for repairing infrastructure to potential litigation and reputational damage. Therefore, rather than being reactive and addressing attacks after they occur, administrators and technology resources must implement a proactive strategy to identify cybersecurity risks before they can harm the institution.

While schools can encounter all different kinds of cyberattacks, three specific types of attacks have significantly increased in recent years:

  • Phishing: Attackers send emails—often sophisticated— to collect email, application, network and system passwords, or exploit other vulnerabilities
  • Ransomware: Users are exploited by a phishing email which encrypts system files with access regained only after paying a ransom
  • Insider threats or malicious users: Employees or students can hack into systems for a number of reasons, to access financial or human resources data, or to alter grades

Read our white paper to understand how educational institutions can increase their overall awareness of these prevalent threats, and implement a proactive cybersecurity strategy. We provide insights into each threat, as well as case studies of specific situations that institutions faced and lessons learned that can help you prevent similar attacks at your institution.