UK universities targeted by hackers

A report sponsored by VMware and Dell EMC has investigated how UK universities that conduct research programmes combat cyber threats.

It was found that UK universities are finding it difficult to keep their research data safe, with hackers targeting  research concerning science (54%), medicine (50%), economics (37%) and defence (33%).

A quarter of the universities’ studies reported daily cyber attacks, thus presenting an increasing risk in national security with 93% of the research programmes being commissioned by the government, with almost a third of that percentage relating to national security.

The report identified that half of the universities studied agreed that a successful data breach could lead to a “serious financial loss” despite generating an average of £22 million each from the research programmes. A total of 49% of the university IT leaders admitted to needing better cyber security as an average UK university has an IT budget of £7 million, of which just 8% is spent on cyber security.

Most notably the report found that nearly a quarter (24%) of UK universities believe that their security and defence research could have already been infiltrated.

Louise Fellows, director, public sector UK and Ireland at VMware said:

“Keeping pace with today’s sophisticated cyber threats is an enormous challenge. Those responsible for protecting universities and the data they hold must examine how they can evolve practices and approaches in line with an increasingly complex threat landscape, including cyber security as a consideration at every stage of the research process by design,”

Dr Jonny Milliken, manager of Threat Research at Alert Logic, told SC Media UK:

“Even the largest corporations and governments find it challenging to completely secure their systems.”

Milliken added:

“If only a quarter of universities think they’re being attacked daily…then the other three quarters aren’t looking hard enough.”

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