The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has today (Sept 17) issued a warning to academic institutions about the threat of cyber-attacks. NCSC has warned that schools, colleges, and universities must take steps to protect themselves against cyberattacks after a spate of attacks took place during August. There are worries that attacks may be deliberately targeted at academia in order to disrupt the start of the new academic year.
Ransomware attacks are becoming an increasingly popular form of attack on organisations. It involves encrypting data of an organisation and demanding money in order for the data to be recovered. Even if money is paid to the hackers, there is no guarantee that they even have the data ready to be decrypted.
One of the best measures that institutions are being told to take by NCSC is to back up their data offline, so that should their data be encrypted, they still have a backup available offsite.
Paul Chichester, Director of Operations at the NCSC, said:
“This criminal targeting of the education sector, particularly at such a challenging time, is utterly reprehensible.
“While these have been isolated incidents, I would strongly urge all academic institutions to take heed of our alert and put in place the steps we suggest, to help ensure young people are able to return to education undisrupted.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring UK academia is as safe as possible from cyber threats, and will not hesitate to act when that threat evolves.”