The University of Sunderland, a tertiary institution located in Northeast England, has become just one more victim in an increasing wave of cyberattacks that have been aimed at universities. In recent months, other schools, such as Newcastle University also in England, and Howard University in Washington DC, United States, have suffered similar threats to their cybersecurity.
In the case of the University of Sunderland, the cyberattack rendered students unable to log in for online, remote/distance learning classes and left staff unable to access their email and other data stored on the university network. The school’s online infrastructure was disabled for five days before restoration operations could bring the network back online and accessible to students and staff.
Universities Are New Targets
As the global pandemic changed the way people lived and worked, especially in school situations that put many young people in close proximity of each other, universities, like other organizations, had to change. Remote learning through the Internet had already made in-roads for some universities and certain courses. However, the pandemic accelerated the use and reliance of these systems, causing universities to lean more heavily on their digital infrastructure.
For many cyber-criminals, this presented new opportunities. Rather than corporations or government agencies with years of experience and “hardened” their cyber security against incursion, universities were viewed as easier targets that now relied on their digital infrastructure to work smoothly more than ever.
Ransomware On The Rise Without Cyber Security
One of the most popular forms of cyberattack in the modern day is known as “ransomware.” Rather than for the purposes of mischief or destruction, ransomware is entirely profit-motivated. In these attacks, hackers successfully bypass cyber security and seize control of a network. They then lock out legitimate users so they can no longer access their own data or manipulate the network.
The hackers then offer to restore control of the network back to the facility provided that their release fee is paid. Depending on how crucial the data is and how quickly it needs to be accessed, this can be very lucrative for digital criminals. Organizations may sometimes determine that it will be cheaper and faster to give in to the demands.
Digital Security Is Crucial
With more and more valuable data being stored digitally on networks, it is more important than ever to ensure access to confidential and critical information is properly protected. Modern cybersecurity is about more than just strong passwords, with multi-factor authentication and anti-phishing measures critical to good network security.
For modern digital protection and peace of mind, learn more about Nok Nok’s multifactor authentication technology and passwordless identity and authentication measures.