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Ransom Threats and Higher Education

prevent ransomware threats for universities

Higher education is a hot spot for physical and digital threats. However, digital threats have pushed the world of higher education to a breaking point, with ransomware becoming one of the most devastating threats to higher education in recent years.  

The Impact of Ransomware on Higher Education

While ransomware is not a new threat, attacks have risen by 105% across the globe since 2020, and its effects have been devastating. With ransomware attacks doubling since 2019 and showing no signs of slowing, higher education institutions have been left scrambling to thwart these digital threats. Unfortunately, efforts to repel ransomware haven’t been as impactful as the industry would like. According to EdScoop, a website dedicated to helping K-12 and higher education leaders keep ahead of technology changes and threats impacting school districts, 44% of respondents in education reported being attacked by ransomware. The average cost to remediate the impact of a ransomware attack peaked at $2.73 million USD: 48% higher than the global average across all sectors.

Ransomware’s Impact on Higher Education is Global

While it’s easy to look at ransomware as a threat impacting higher education institutions far away, ransomware attacks occur across institutions of higher learning around the globe. For example, the UK has experienced a spike in ransomware attacks in the education sector much like the US, with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issuing formal guidance on the sharp increase of attacks in an effort to combat the uptick in cybercriminal activity.

The impacts of ransomware, beyond the price tag to remediate them, are far-reaching. According to a Sophos study, 58% of higher education institutions hit by ransomware said cybercriminals were successful in encrypting their data. Only 68% of education institutions that paid a ransom to get their data back were successful in data recovery.

Of all the targets cybercriminals have, higher education has become one of the most popular. Since higher education notoriously suffers from tight budgets and underfunding, this should come as little surprise. With a lack of proper tools for combating digital threats at their disposal and open remote desktop ports and databases greatly increasing their vulnerabilities, cybercriminals have a much easier time hacking and disrupting university networks than those of other institutions and industries, making ransomware attacks easier and more effective.

Protecting Against Ransomware in Higher Education

Protecting students, staff, and assets from the effects of a ransomware attack is no easy task, but it is far from an impossible undertaking. To effectively combat ransomware attacks, higher education institutions must find creative ways to use their highly restrictive budgets to their advantage: investing in solutions that scale to future threats while simultaneously securing the safety of their people and assets in the present. The Everbridge Digital Operations Platform empowers higher education institutions by giving them the tools needed to combat the biggest threats in the industry, allowing decision-makers in higher education to better meet the safety and security challenges of their institution while maintaining readiness as new digital threats and trends emerge.

To learn more about how our Everbridge Digital Operations Platform can help your institution protect and prepare, explore.