Educational institutions have always been targets for hackers. The reason is quite simple, there is a lot of data out there, and the target audience may not always be equipped with hefty IT solutions to prevent cyber attacks.
In 2018,nine hackers were responsible for password spraying on 300 universities worldwide! Such cases and numbers have been on the rise of late. It is indeed true that cyber attackers are becoming more and more sophisticated with their methods. But, the reason there is a stark increase in the rise of attacks on educational institutions is not a mere coincidence.
In this blog, we are addressing some of the common reasons for these vulnerabilities.
Universities are filled with devices. Students use their laptops, phones, the desktops provided by universities. The IT infrastructure over such systems is not that strict either, whereas the network of devices is extensive.
This, by default BYOD philosophy, brings with it a lot of risks. Students living in the campuses as well and browsing websites at their will make security an alarming fact.
The fact that a lot of mobile phones of students are also jailbroken does not help the security posture.
The email system
The universities, much like other organizations, run on emails traveling back and forth. Between students as well as faculties for assignments and more.
Moreover, a lot of faculty emails are available openly. If a bad actor gets his/her hand on the database on students and faculties, then a lot of social engineering methods are used.
Cyber attacks like phishing, take advantage of human psychology. One alarming email about a last-minute last assignment or about online offers could easily lure them into clicking on the email and thereby entering details that could compromise the entire network.
A lot of times, universities have been on the receiving end of criticism for the lack of modern IT resources for security purposes. Although the adoption of solutions is changing, there is still a dearth of skilled employees who could handle sophisticated attacks.
Moreover, a lot of the devices in the majority of the educational institutions are legacy systems. These cannot be easily integrated with security solutions by the majority of the IT vendors.
Too much at stake
The reason why educational institutes are a higher risk of getting hacked is for the reason that they are educational institutions!
Research findings are continually being made, a lot of students and faculties get funding to conduct several research-based experiments. These could hold information sensitive to the military even.
Or a lot of research could be medical related. Such data could be sold for a high price by a bad actor.
Another reason is the enormous amount of Personally Identifiable Information available of all the students and faculty as well. It can contain sensitive medical information, as well. Universities must stay compliant with regulations like HIPPA.
Identity Management smart enough to deal with it all
Educational institutions need smart solutions like the Identity Management solution of Ilantus, Compact Identity. This can integrate easily with the legacy system and does not even require a lot of technical skills to handle it. They can take care of password related problems and the BYOD conundrum.
They could even control access to sensitive files, thereby keeping them safe. Most importantly, provide holistic risk patterns to ensure the security is always proactive and not just reactive.