Watch Out Universities, Here Come the Hackers

Institutions of higher learning manage large open networks and massive volumes of data, making them hot targets for malicious cyberattacks. According to SC Magazine, roughly one-third of universities in the United Kingdom have been victimized by cyber criminals.

For this reason, it only makes sense that educational organizations invest in cybersecurity liability insurance to safeguard themselves from financial ruin due to cybercrime and data breach. Below are a few examples of the threats facing universities and how to handle them.

Chaos Ensues
Hackers have infiltrated and preyed on colleges all over the world, but here are just a few instances from the United States:

  • In July 2013, the University of Delaware suffered a data breach which leaked the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and campus IDs of more than 72,000 employees.
  • In February 2014, the University of Indiana experience a data breach affecting roughly 146,000 current and former students, compromising a wealth of information including names, addresses and SSNs.
  • In March 2014, a major cyberattack compromised almost 300,000 personal records on students, faculty and affiliate staff members at the University of Maryland; including anyone issued a university ID between 1998 and February 2014.
  • In May 2015, Pennsylvania State University's College of Engineering was targeted by two sophisticated attacks which breached records on 18,000 people and crashed the network for three days.

As you can see, cyber crooks are especially interested in ripping off personal information on students and faculty. This data can be resold on the dark web to make a quick buck, or used to steal someone's identity. These episodes can harm a brand's reputation for years and sometime even result in a class-action lawsuit.

But the problems don't stop there. Colleges and universities can also be impaired by ransomware, distributed denial-of-service attacks and social engineering scams. These attacks can cost tens of thousands or even millions of dollars in damages. And while it's true that cybersecurity liability insurance can protect educational institutions from financial ruin, it's still better to prevent attacks from ever happening.

Sure, it's impossible to stymie every cyberattack. But there are steps you can take to better defend your staff, your students and your digital assets:

  • Designate an employee, team or agency to assess internal and external risks to your organization.
  • Improve cybersecurity awareness within your organization and on your campus by hosting routine cyber defense training sessions for staff members and publish quick-reference cyber defense guides for students.
  • Regularly test your network for security gaps and flaws so you can better prepare your network for attack.
  • Establish an incident-response plan that can be leveraged at a moment's notice; and include protocol for reporting the incident to law enforcement and security professionals.
  • Encrypt all data in transit and in storage to prevent breaches and leaks.

If you are dedicated about preserving the health and longevity of your educational institution, it's only reasonable to examine the benefits of cybersecurity liability insurance from a reputable provider.

Don't know where to start? Visit CyberPolicy for your free quote today. We can match you with the best cyber insurance provider for your needs.

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