Higher Education A Growing Target for Data Theft

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 2/8/2016

Thomas Duffy, chair of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which is the focal point for cyber threat prevention, protection, response and recovery for various government levels in the US, recently sat down with FedScoop about the evolving threat landscape in the public sector.

In particular, Duffy noted the constant growth in the attack surface available to hackers created through mobility and the use of the cloud, a topic we've been discussing a great deal here on InTelligence. As Duffy noted, “we continue to develop technology at a much faster rate than our ability to secure it,” and this holds true for both public and private organizations. Duffy has noted a big spike in malware and ransomware in 2015 that he believes will continue into 2016.

One of the other major themes identified by Thomas Duffy is a growth in attacks on major state universities. As home to valuable intellectual property and research, universities are a growing target for cyber criminals. Although information is usually the target, recent attacks have also focused on infrastructure. The recent infrastructure attack that caused internet connections to go down at universities in the UK, and the simple phishing attack that led to a data breach at the University of Virginia, underline the need for more data protections in higher education.

The hacker who brought down the IT systems of Rutgers University in 2015 demonstrated how easily it was to penetrate the University infrastructure, bringing more attention to the current challenges in this sector. The current level of security surrounding student and donor data, as well as research data, is likely to attract cyber criminals. While these attacks are a sad wake up for the institutions affected, they can also create a movement of change within the whole sector.

Technology is rapidly changing in the higher education system, with the greater attack surface adding more risk to an already complex data environment. Higher education has unique challenges when it comes to data security. From the myriad of network users to legacy systems to the open environment culture, data security is a challenge. Having technology on hand to supplement security training and policies is key to mitigating and recovering from data breaches. Continue to our website to learn how Absolute DDS for Education can help remotely secure and manage endpoints at your higher educational institution.

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