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Cyber-hacking of University Materials

Posted 255 days ago | 04.04.19

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Cyber-hacking of University Materials

In tests carried out by "ethical hackers" working for Jisc, the agency that provides internet services to the UK's universities and research centres the hackers breached university defences within two hours. They were able to access personal data, finance systems and research networks.

There were more than 1,000 cyber-attacks last year, particularly on university research projects, a major hacking focus.

Jisc carried out simulated attacks, so-called "penetration testing", on more than 50 universities in the UK, with some being attacked multiple times.

A report into their effectiveness, published by Jisc showed a 100% success rate in getting through the cyber-defences. Within two hours, and in some cases one hour, they were able to reach student and staff personal information, override financial systems and access research databases.

The tests were carried out by Jisc's in-house team of ethical hackers, with one of the most effective approaches being so-called "spear phishing”, where an email might appear to be from someone you know or a trusted source but is really a way of concealing an attack, such as downloading “malware".

John Chapman, head of Jisc's security operations centre commented :”Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent and universities can't afford to stand still in the face of this constantly evolving threat.”

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