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Blog 24-01-2022

This is why hackers want to teach schools a lesson

It’s all happening in the education sector. Nowhere else have we seen a more rapid uptake of new technology than in education. Trends and developments are compelling schools, colleges and universities to consider how to keep their digital learning environment safe.

Educational institutions are becoming the target of cyber-attacks more and more. Cybercriminals are holding the IT system as a hostage and demand a ransom for the release. These attacks are costly, both in terms of money and time. Education is suffering as a result. And the privacy of students and staff is at risk.

But why are hackers so interested in schools, colleges and universities?

Sensitive data

Educational institutions have an immense amount of sensitive data. And hackers, of course, find this particularly interesting.

Just take the contact details of students, parents and staff. And don't forget details such as social security numbers, payment details, information on school performance, salaries and research data. Schools often store this privacy-sensitive data online. It absolutely cannot fall into the wrong hands. But hackers nowadays will do everything they can to get their hands on this data. How seriously do you take security?

Dependent on digital technology

Technology has already played quite a role in education. But that role has definitely increased in the past year. Digitalisation in education is an absolute fact now. We cannot ignore it anymore. Just take a look at higher education, for example. Technologies like VR and AR are already being used there. And that's why many teachers don't think they will go back to teaching without any technology. But, because of digitalisation, education has also become highly dependent on digital technology. Is everything as safe as it seems?

When students and teachers do not have access to key information and systems anymore, there are huge consequences for both of them. Students may be unable to communicate with teachers. At the very least, classes and exams will be cancelled. Some students won't mind, of course. But some students will fall behind, or research will be interrupted. And that doesn't make anyone happy.

"60% of education institutions allocate 5% or less of their IT budget to security. This pales in comparison to the 25% budget allocation that is generally seen in the corporate sector."

- Research done by Kantar

Easy prey

Educational institutions underestimate the risk of cybercrime. Compared to the corporate world, schools often have tighter budget restrictions for putting in place and maintaining a sturdy IT environment. For example, more than 4 out of 10 schools in secondary education and post-secondary vocational education had to deal with an ICT security incident. And according to a study by Microsoft, more than 60% of worldwide cyber-attacks target schools!

The open nature of schools poses a further challenge. Information needs to be easily accessible to students. And not only on all sorts of devices but also from numerous locations. And this, of course, opens up opportunities for attackers. Furthermore, students and teachers don’t always use IT equipment securely. Often because they don't have the proper knowledge.

Say bye, bye hackers

Education has never been so vulnerable. Educational institutions possess an immense amount of sensitive data. Education has also become highly dependent on digital technologies. And schools are easy prey. But where to start? What are the main risks? Where do the vulnerabilities lie? You can read all about it in the following whitepaper.

Hello, safe online learning environment!

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