Universities are facing increasing pressure with growing student numbers, undertaking digital transformation and protecting sensitive information.
An attack on a major Australian university last month compromised the details of approximately 200,000 people. The unauthorised access dates back 19 years but was only detected in June this year.
The Vice-Chancellor said there was unauthorised access to significant amounts of sensitive data; “Depending on the information you have provided to the university, this may include names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, personal email addresses and emergency contact details, tax file numbers, payroll information, bank account details, and passport details. Student academic records were also accessed.”
“The university has taken immediate precautions to further strengthen our IT security and is working continuously to build on these precautions to reduce the risk of future intrusion,” he said.
In the same month, another university saw the personal data of its staff stolen in a cyber-attack. They suspect students may also have been impacted by the phishing email which took users to a fake login page.
Australian Universities are a growing target, with the Silent Librarian phishing attack launching two dozen attempts since 2017. The scam has targeted 176 universities across 21 foreign countries.
A recent report by Hays has revealed the demand for cyber security experts and technology far outrstrips the supply, with an estimated worldwide skills gap in cyber security of 2.93 million.
The report cited the top challenges cyber security experts face:
- Building the business case for management to secure funding
- Shortage of a cyber security-skilled workforce
- Consolidating complex infrastructure around major platforms
- Communicating risks and prevention strategies
Education is Australia’s largest service export and third overall export and universities are scrambling to protect our reputation on a national and international level.
With universities undertaking digital transformation, they are rushing to identify systems with the capacity to store and safeguard their big data. In lieu of staff, organisations are automating key tasks in security operations and relying heavily on technology.
Increasing number and sophistication of threats to Australian universities demands adaptability as organisations continuously update and adapt their strategy to keep pace with rapid change. As organisations move to the cloud, wireless and wearable technology, hackers are diversifying their methods of attack through MiM, spying software, Google Glass and memory-scraping malware.
If organisations fail to invest in state-of-the-art technology, they risk their systems quickly becoming outdated and falling victim to malware or hackers.
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