The cybersecurity challenges in the education sector continue to rise in volume and complexity. Educational institutions are a prime target for attack due to the vast amount of sensitive data they hold, from personal information on staff and students to valuable research data. Recently, the sector’s attack surface has increased, driven in-part by the growth in e-learning, accelerated use of collaborative apps, increased remote access, and the sheer number of devices and the diversity of operating systems on the network.
Illustrating the scale of the challenge, the frequency of ransomware attacks in education has increased considerably in recent years with 56% of lower education and 64% of higher education organizations reporting being hit by ransomware in 2021, up from 44% in 2020*. More broadly, almost half of education organizations reported an increase in the volume, complexity, and impact of cyberattacks on their organizations over the previous year. Read the full report here.
The education sector faces unique challenges
Evolving attacker tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and the growing professionalism of the cybercrime industry are significant drivers behind today’s complex threat landscape. A number of additional factors further compound the cybersecurity challenge facing the education sector:
- Students and staff need 24/7 access to online portals via a multitude of devices
- School districts and universities need to enable the secure exchange of personal data, digital teaching content, financial transactions, and more across different departments and sites
- The number of private and school-issued devices accessing the network continues to grow, as does the number of educational technologies and apps
- Encryption protocols used in collaboration and data sharing tools create blind spots for protection technologies, allowing cybercriminals to carry out malicious activities undetected, such as cloaking data exfiltration operations and hiding command-and-control traffic
- Schools need to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain student safety while using the internet
- Cybercriminals are actively attempting to exploit the use of cloud-based technologies as cybersecurity practices are less established than in traditional on-premises environments
Sophos can help
Sophos MDR is our fully-managed, 24/7 service delivered by experts who specialize in detecting and responding to sophisticated cyberattacks that technology solutions alone cannot prevent. As the world’s most trusted MDR provider and with many hundreds of education sector customers, we have unparalleled depth and breadth of expertise when it comes to threats facing the education sector. Sophos MDR applies learnings from defending one education organization to all others in the sector, generating “community immunity” and elevating everyone’s defenses.
“The pen testers were shocked they couldn’t find a way in. That was the point we knew we could absolutely trust the Sophos service.”
University of South Queensland
“Since implementing Sophos, we’ve managed to free up significant operational hours that have allowed our teams to focus on initiatives that have increased our student satisfaction.”
London South Bank University
“The Sophos team acts as our goalkeepers, sitting behind us with their skill sets and giving us reassurance that they have our back.”
Inspire Education Group
Sophos ZTNA eliminates vulnerable VPN clients, enabling you to offer secure and seamless access to resources for your remote users defined by policies. It removes implicit trust in your environment’s applications, users, and devices, allowing segmented access to your systems and resources to just those who need it.
Sophos Secure Access Portfolio enables educational institutions to connect remote and branch sites, deliver critical cloud and SaaS applications such as Dropbox Education, G Suite, ClassDojo, etc., and share data and information between sites. It includes:
- Sophos ZTNA to support secure access to applications
- Sophos SD-RED remote Ethernet devices to safely extend your network to branch locations and remote devices
- Sophos Wireless access points for easy and secure wireless networking
- Sophos Switch for secure access on the LAN
Plus, to simplify management, everything is managed through a single cloud-based security platform, Sophos Central.
Speak with an expert
To learn more and discuss how Sophos can help you, contact your Sophos representative or request a call-back from our security specialists.
*The State of Ransomware in Education 2022, Sophos