India is the top target for cyber threats against educational institutions and online platforms, followed by the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Brazil, according to a report.
The report also indicates that the adoption of distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the digitization of education and the prevalence of online learning platforms are key triggers that have widened the attack surface. .
The report, titled “Cyber Threats Targeting the Global Education Sector”, also claimed that data shows a 20% increase in cyber threats against the global education sector in the first three months of 2022 compared to the corresponding period of 2021.
The report was compiled by the Threat Research and Information Analytics division of CloudSEK, an AI-based digital risk management firm based in Singapore. CloudSEK’s XVigil platform scours thousands of sources (on the shallow, deep, and dark web) to detect cyber threats, data leaks, brand threats, and identity theft.
“Of the threats detected in Asia and the Pacific last year, 58% targeted Indian or India-based educational institutions and online platform. Indonesia was far behind being the target of 10% of cyber threats. This included attacks on BYJU, IIM Kojhikode and Tamil Nadus Technical Education Directorate,” the report said.
“Overall, the United States was the second most affected country in the world with a total of 19 incidents recorded, representing 86% of threats in North America. these include ransomware attacks against prestigious institutions such as Howard University and the University of California. Additionally, high-risk API vulnerabilities have been discovered in Coursera, the massive open online course provider,” he added.
According to Darshit Ashara, Principal Threat Researcher at CloudSEK, the growing global education and training market, both online and offline, is expected to reach $7.3 trillion by 2025. expansion of the education technology market, population growth and digital penetration in developing countries. It is therefore not surprising that cybercriminals gravitate towards entities and institutions in the sector,” he said. Adoption of distance learning by schools, universities and related entities to combat disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the large-scale digitization of educational materials, student data and documents, and online learning platforms catering to the needs of everyone from preschoolers to retired professionals are among the reasons listed in the report, behind this trend.
The report’s findings indicate that several cybercriminals are actively disclosing databases, accesses, vulnerabilities and exploits, as well as other information belonging to educational institutions, on cybercrime forums.
“Databases and access are the most sought after types of data. Databases disclosed by educational institutions primarily contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of students and their families, including name, date of birth, email address, phone number and the physical address; website user records and credentials, and exam results and scores,” he said.
Experts asserted in the report that given the size and impact of the education sector, it is essential that institutions, students, parents, teachers and government ensure that the information collected and stored are not disclosed and exploited by cybercriminals. Educate users about cyberattacks, online scams and phishing campaigns; adopt strong password policies and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA); regularly update and correct software, systems and networks; maintain multiple backups, both online and offline, in separate, secure locations; monitoring unusual traffic and activity logs to websites and other applications is among the recommendations made in the report.
“Institutions should block illegitimate IP addresses and disable port forwarding using network firewalls. They need to perform real-time Internet monitoring to identify and mitigate near-term threats, such as misconfigured applications, exposed data, and leaked access, which are leveraged by cybercriminals to carry out large-scale attacks. “Students, parents, teachers and staff should avoid clicking on suspicious emails, messages and links; do not download or install unverified applications; use strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts,” the report adds.
(Except for the title, this story has no editing by federal government staff and is published automatically from a syndicated feed.)