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Why colleges and universities are appealing targets for hackers?

Why colleges and universities are appealing targets for hackers?
  • Colleges and universities are a data gold mine for cybercriminals.
  • Over the last year, nearly 56% of universities have seen an increase in phishing attacks.

Higher education is a popular target for phishing scams. Cyberattacks on these institutions have resulted in the exposure of over 1.3 million identities. Over the last year, nearly 56% of universities have seen an increase in phishing attacks. The threat is so serious that it will continue to run rampant in the future.

Why do hackers target higher education?

  • Colleges and universities are a data gold mine for cybercriminals. Various sensitive information like personal data, confidential research information and intellectual property belonging to students, faculty, and staff make it a one-stop-shop for everything cybercriminals crave.
  • This personally identifiable information includes a variety of data such as social security numbers, financial information and more. Bad actors can misuse them for identity theft or scams.
  • The secretive information from ongoing research can also be stolen and sold to foreign entities.
  • University libraries have exclusive access to hundreds and sometimes thousands of journals and publications. Some of these journals include valuable information related to people or devices that can cost the targeted organization if it is sold to an interested party illegally.

How attackers snoop into universities?

  • Thousands of users - many of the students who are unaware of cyber threats - make the network incredibly easy to break into via phishing scams.
  • Moreover, most of the students use their own devices like personal laptops and cell phones, which is like creating your information security nightmare if proper precautions are not applied. A survey from EdTech revealed that three in ten data breaches at colleges occur due to unintentional disclosure of sensitive information via phishing scams or the misuse of social media.
  • Lately, ransomware has been a particularly popular method to launch attacks against universities and colleges. This is one of the attack techniques from which threat actors can generate revenue.

Conclusion

As higher education continues to be a sweet target for cybercriminals, colleges and universities should adopt a stronger defensive strategy to ward off phishing attacks.

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