In 2020 numerous FE and HE providers fell victim to cyber attacks.

Ten universities were targeted in the Blackbaud attack, and other attacks targeted establishments including Luminate Education Group, Newcastle University, Dundee & Angus College and Northumbria University. The NCSC has now issued an alert to the education sector to act now, before it is too late.

The education sector is vulnerable to attacks due to the vast diverse user base and wide range of personal and unmanaged devices connecting to networks across the country. FE and HE institutions hold personal information about thousands of students, staff and donors as well as a significant library of intellectual property. This makes the education sector a lucrative target for threat actors.

A cyber attack’s impact can be far reaching. Numerous systems including finance, payroll, access controls, CCTV, and catering can be disabled, leading to the immediate halt in ‘business as usual’.