The new school year starts with a serious caution for educational institutions. Cyberattacks pose a threat, and some schools are more at risk than others.
Who Faces the Highest Risk?
Recent surveys from September 2022 to January 2023 show that higher and further education settings face more frequent attacks than primary and secondary schools. These places also fall victim to a wider variety of cybercrimes, such as impersonation and denial-of-service attacks.
Universities: The Prime Targets
Out of all educational settings, universities suffer the most. Six out of ten universities have reported significant losses, including stolen funds and data, as well as compromised accounts.
School Boards: Engaged but Inexperienced
School boards generally pay more attention to cybersecurity than typical UK business boards do. But their involvement often lacks depth. This mainly stems from a lack of technical know-how among board members and frequent changes in board composition.
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The State of Current Security Measures
About half of further and higher education institutions already have some form of cybersecurity plan. Although this falls short of the security measures at most large businesses, it does indicate that education is starting to take cyber threats seriously. Primary and secondary schools, on the other hand, often lack such preparation.
Ignorance is Not Bliss
Many primary and secondary schools don’t even know about key government guidance on cybersecurity. This includes the NCSC’s ’10 Steps to Cyber Security’, ‘Cyber Essentials’ certification, and ‘Cyber Aware’ campaigns.
The Prevalence of Cybercrime
Recent data indicates that cybercrime affects all educational settings but is most common in higher and further education. Around half of these institutions suffered from some kind of cybercrime last year. For secondary schools, the rate drops to one-third, and only one in ten primary schools report similar issues.
Next Steps for Schools
As the academic year begins, schools need to step up their cybersecurity measures. They can’t afford to ignore this issue, especially with the safety of students and the reputation of schools on the line. Both students and teachers rely more and more on digital resources for teaching and learning.
This makes it imperative to safeguard these systems. This isn’t just about stopping attacks; schools must also build resilience and educate their communities on the basics of good cyber hygiene.