Third of UK universities victimised by cyber-attacks

Over one-third (36 percent) of universities in the UK are hit by cyber-attacks every hour.

A survey from VMware studied 75 IT leaders at 50 UK universities, discovering that 87 percent, almost all respondents, experienced successful cyber-attacks. 43 percent said that hackers targeted student data such as exam results, while a quarter experienced intellectual property theft and had their research data exfiltrated.

Seventy-nine percent said their school experienced reputational damage from hacks, and 74 percent said that they had to hold off on a research project because of infiltration. Over three-quarters (77 percent) said that a security breach had potential to impact national security. 

Almost all of those surveyed (83 percent) said they believed cyber-attacks were growing in frequency and sophistication.

Most respondents, who included CIOs and CISOs, said universities should direct more funding to fighting cyber-crime, however 63 percent blamed their own students as security threats.

Tim Hearn, director of UK government and public services at VMware, said: “While UK universities continue to be world class in terms of quality of teaching and student experience, many risk falling behind in terms of IT security.”

Hearn said that universities need to place the same level of importance on keeping research and student data secure as companies do to protect customer information. 

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