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30% Spike In Higher Ed Attacks During Coronavirus

Published: November 21, 2021 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.

In this pandemic era, higher education, whether remote or in person, is under increasing attack by cybercriminals. Already a popular target, academia, is facing a 30% increase in cyberattacks during coronavirus. Administrators and students don’t quite know what to think, much less know what to do about protecting their data. The increasing attacks bring into question what the security of higher education databases needs to be going forward. The students and employees of a compromised school also question what such an attack means to them and how it might affect them personally and financially. A study by Check Point Research found the past three months of this year showed a surge in hacking topics using education, research and back-to-school were most prevalent. Their report looks at the jump in these cyberattacks and the rise in hacks against higher education in the U.S. during this challenging time.

Over the past six months, Checkpoint’s research statistics for the U.S. paint a troubling picture. From July to August of this year, the academic sector saw a 30% increase in cyberattacks compared to May and June. Putting that in perspective, the overall uptick in attacks against all business sectors in the U.S. averaged just 6.5%. Check Point also saw the explosion of a highly destructive type of cyberattack is behind the booming increase of higher education hacks.

With all of the attack options available, Check Point found that DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks are the method of choice against higher education. A DDoS strike builds on a DoS (denial-of-service) attack, where flooding the host target with menial requests from one source can overload systems and prevent requests from being fulfilled. A DDoS attack takes hacking to another level by flooding targets with incoming traffic from many different sources, making it impossible to stop by blocking just one single source. The Check Point study reminds organizations that there are steps to help limit and prevent DDoS and other cyberattacks.

  • Act quickly. Understand the nature of the cyberattack and rapidly triage the vulnerability before it’s too late to stop it.

  • Prevent attacks before they start. Use anti-attack software to prevent random attacks and protect applications. Use technology that blocks phishing sites and credential reuse, and also detects passwords that have been compromised.

  • Limit attack surfaces. Simply put, the fewer the attack options that are available translates to fewer hacking opportunities. All data should be encrypted and corporate security procedures need to be enforced on every level.

  • Use anti-ransomware technology. Detecting ransomware and random malware families keep attacks from taking root.

  • Detection and isolation. Blocking and isolating infected computers and devices allows file quarantine and restoration that stops the attack and sterilizes the attack chain, preventing further abuse.

  • Prioritize updates and patches. Ensuring all systems are kept up-to-date with the latest patches and updates helps to prevent attacks that take advantage of known vulnerabilities.

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