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Ransomware attacks affecting the Irish Higher Education Sector

Ransomware attacks on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the world have been increasing recently and for some colleges and universities, this has been devastating. Recently some HEAnet members were victims of such attacks.

Colleges and universities handle large amounts of data such as personal information on staff and students, including information like names, birth dates, contact details, as well as financial records. Additionally, they manage sensitive research data, patents, or other intellectual property which makes HEIs “attractive” to hackers.

Brian Nisbet, Service Operations Manager at HEAnet said “Ransomware attacks can be devastating and cause serious disruptions. Cyber threats evolve constantly, and we urge our members to follow the advice from the NCSC and stay on top of their ICT Security.

The consequences of not doing so may be very serious, including the loss of all on-site key systems. Members that have suffered attacks have found it very difficult to function. Some have been forced to temporarily close their campuses and will be feeling the financial and logistical effects for some time to come.”

Submitted by Barbara Carroll

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