UK Universities Facing Daily State-Sponsored Attacks

UK universities are facing increased attacks from state-sponsored hackers, who are targeting their research programs.

According to a survey of 75 senior IT leaders across 68 UK universities by VMware and Dell EMC, a quarter of respondents said their institution is targeted on a daily basis, while one in 10 strongly agreed that a successful attack on their research could have a harmful impact on the lives of UK citizens.

The research also found that 24% of UK universities believed their security and defense research may have already been infiltrated, while over half (53%) said a cyber-attack on their institution has led to research ending up in foreign hands.

John Chapman, CISO, UK Public Sector at Dell EMC, said: “In conducting research that may shape the future of the nation and its citizens, universities are under the microscope of some of the world’s most well-resourced and potent cyber-attackers. We hope this study will encourage them to look critically at their cybersecurity readiness. Universities must do more to protect themselves, and the sensitive information they hold, against the ever-expanding range of increasingly sophisticated threats.”

Specifically, cyber-criminals target scientific (54%), medical (50%), economic (37%) and defense research (33%). The research also found that 49% of university IT leaders recognize that a lack of IT investment is one of the forces driving the need for more robust cybersecurity practices.

In a statement sent to Infosecurity, Universities UK said: "Data security is an absolute priority for higher education providers and students alike. Universities UK is working with university leaders and the National Cyber Security Centre to help improve and strengthen security practices to better protect the sector from cyber threats. This includes the development of robust guidance on cybersecurity which we will release later this year.”

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