Because of the sensitive data universities possess and work with, as well as their open-access culture, they’re usually the targets of cyber attacks. Sure, some of the universities have an IT department or IT systems, but the majority of universities tend to overlook the sensitivity as well as the importance of this issue. Once such incident occurs, it is too late for the IT department to fix it, so universities should definitely be more focused on effective cyber attacks preventing methods, and it this article we’re going to show why.
The Importance of Cyber Security
As the researches show, the overall security protocols are usually neglected at colleges and universities. For the same reason, the campus networks are also filled with inconsistent security profiles and devices, making colleges and universities susceptible to these vicious attacks. The problem, however, is not whether attacks will happen, but when? Because there is a huge disconnect between IT professionals and the leaders of institutions, many colleges and universities haven’t recognized cyberattacks as threatening. However, colleges and universities are highly exposed and should make cybersecurity the priority of their security agenda, and here’s why:
1. Legal Responsibility
College and university leaders are held responsible and liable for their networks. Not to mention that the lack of security, especially cybersecurity in regards to sensitive data, can lead to legal proceedings against principals and superintendents in case of an attack. Because this issue is more serious than colleges and universities tends to recognize, school management needs to take steps in regards to cyber protection and data sharing policies.
Some of the legal recommendations in regards to cybersecurity at schools include cybersecurity insurance in case of attacks and similar problems.
2. Reputation Damage
Cyber attacks can affect the professional reputation of a college or university quite immensely. The representatives and school leaders can also be affected because they are the ones responsible for the lack of cybersecurity. Therefore, many corporations, for example, tend to avoid partnership and business with such universities, since the cyber threat to these educational institutions seems too high for them to take risks.
Not to mention that cyber attacks can affect the potential university or college enrollees as well as the public relations, the ‘promised’ quality of education and overall safety.
3. Financial Impact
The financial cost of cyber attacks on colleges and universities can be extremely damaging. When taking into consideration all the types of costs upon a cyber attack, like customer loss, the time to detect an attack, costs of fixing the damage, the costs of compensation, public relations, etc., it is quite striking that so many educational institutions neglect this issue. The average data breach can cost institutions up to $260 per record seized during the attack.
4. Digital Records
It might actually be a mistake to consider all cyber attacks as data-seizing because they definitely are not. Some cyber attacks focused deliberately on merely information change because that can impact colleges and universities as much as data-seizing can. To be more precise, the information change can affect college and employment applications, which can further affect financial costs and professional reputation. Some even go for student papers, essays, even dissertations, a thesis statement creator, and degrees.
However, because school representatives do not take this issue seriously, it is important not to put all the blame on IT departments of these schools. The school leaders need to recognize the scale of potential threat cyber attacks can pose in order to elevate cybersecurity to the highest levels.
5. Disruption of Education
Every time a cyber attack on a school network happens, it is likely to put a halt to all the classes and disrupt the educational process for the time being. Because the majority of the schools store their material and data in the cloud, a cyber attack on the school network can affect the school’s routine and schedules for days, sometimes even weeks. Student, nor professors and educator can access the necessary material for classes, exams or any other assignments, so it is crucial to have proper cyber protection.
6. Student Information
Privacy is or should be the main concern of colleges and universities. With cyber attacks on the rise, these institutions, lacking proper security systems, put at risk a large number of students in regards to their personal information. An alarming statistic shows that colleges and universities rank third for cyber attacks, which means that student information is basically accessible to anyone nowadays.
A simple thing, like connecting to Wi-Fi networks, social media platforms or even using school emails for non-school related sites, enables hackers to access email addresses and passwords extremely easily. This way, they gain access to a college or university information database, which means also to student information and sensitive data.
Cybersecurity is an issue that is usually overlooked, but with the increase of cyber attacks, there is hope that school leaders will finally pay more attention to protecting their institutions, employees, and students. There is too much at stake for colleges and universities to keep turning a blind eye and disregard the risks that come with poor or non-existent cybersecurity systems. It is always better to prevent an incident than to deal with its aftermath, so we hope cybersecurity at colleges and universities will be taken seriously in the near future.