In the News | Cyber Risks for Higher Ed and Strategies To Mitigate Them

This article was originally published in FIERCE Education on 5.9.23 by Charlie Sander, CEO at ManagedMethods.

Education is particularly susceptible to cyber security events when compared to other industries

Professors are on the front lines of detecting cybersecurity risks. It’s a common misconception that cybersecurity responsibility lies at the foot of the technology department’s door, but hackers are targeting everyone’s accounts—students, professors, faculty and administrators. It doesn’t matter how low on the access privilege ladder they are in.

Education is particularly susceptible to cyber security events when compared to other industries. According to a 2021 EDUCAUSE report, the education sector experienced six times more malware attacks than any other industry. The issue is likely to worsen due to the fact that higher education institutions are making efforts to enhance their cyber security while cybercriminals are operating at a much faster pace. Cybercriminals do not follow any academic schedule and are constantly searching for chances to cause disruption. In fact, they like to use institutions’’ academic schedules against them, for example by deploying malware right when most students are coming back to school from winter or summer break.

Research universities, in particular, are known to house highly valuable data, such as research intelligence, patient medical records, and student information. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, these items are not often updated with the latest security measures. Compared to a centralized public company, higher education institutions have a much more open and decentralized IT environment. This creates numerous entry points for potential cyber-attacks and other malicious actions.

So what can higher education leaders and professors do to combat their cybersecurity vulnerabilities?


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