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Colleges Face Growing Cybersecurity Threat

May 21, 2019
 
 

Cyberattacks on higher education institutions are on the rise, Moody’s Investors Service reports.

The credit rating agency characterized cyberrisks for the sector as “medium.”

While colleges' vulnerability to cyberattacks is high, the “financial and reputational impacts” of these attacks are low, the report said. A high-profile loss of personal information could, however, “affect a student’s decision to enroll or a donor to donate.”

Universities with medical centers and substantial research profiles were identified as the most vulnerable to cyberattack, but they also are most likely to be prepared. Federally funded research, particularly relating to defense, also is at risk from cyberespionage. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report suggests that espionage is the motive behind 11 percent of attacks on educational institutions.

According to research sponsored by IBM Security, 101 confirmed data disclosures occurred in 2017 at U.S. universities, up from just 15 in 2014. The true number could be much higher, as “breaches are often not disclosed,” Moody’s said.

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