Hackers really aren't letting schools enjoy the summer holidays

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Jacob Lund)

Summer holidays may still be in full swing, but hackers aren’t resting - with schools and universities around the world under attack.

Check Point Research (CPR) has examined the state of cybersecurity in the education and research sector, finding it has been under increasing attack throughout the year, and is under more pressure than other industries.

In fact, every month throughout 2021 and 2022 saw hackers target the education and research sector more than any other, with a 114% increase over the past two years. What’s more, in July 2022 alone, there were twice as many weekly cyberattacks, compared to other industries’ average.

Latin America suffering the biggest blows

CPR noted that during the first half of 2022, the industry has had an average of 2,297 attacks a week, up 44% compared to H1 2021.

Splitting the data by region and country, CPR found Latin America experiencing a 62% increase in cyberattacks in July 2022, with Brazil, France, and Mexico being the countries that saw the highest increases in cyber attacks. The Asia region has had 4,171 attacks weekly (5% up in a month), Australia and New Zealand 4,176 (7% down), and Europe 1,861 (6% down).

For hackers, data is the most valuable currency, and within education organizations, there’s plenty of data, says Omer Dembinsky, Data Group Manager at Check Point. 

“From gradebooks to online assignments, hackers have far more access points to sensitive information and data. Data is leverage for hackers and can be used to orchestrate ransomware attacks." 

And since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of internet-connected endpoints, as well as the amount of sensitive data generated, have gone through the roof. 

“In other words, the door is much wider for hackers to infiltrate school computer networks. All it takes is for one teacher, student, or parent to click on a phishing email created by a cyber criminal and a ransomware attack could be underway," said Dembinsky.

"Education and Research is by far the most attacked industry sector, seeing a 114% increase in the past two years. With back-to-school right around the corner, we are urging students, parents and school to exercise the highest level of cyber security practices. Cover your webcams when not in use. Talk to your kids about phishing. And vet 3rd party applications and more."

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.