The Australian Education Sector is Under Attack!

There is a cyber attack in the education sector every two hours

What makes higher education such good targets for hackers?

It all comes down to money! With most cyber crimes, financial gain is the main motivation. Universities are a treasure trove of information, that once stolen, hackers can sell or hold for ransom.

They store vast amounts of personal data

Australian universities produce world-leading research

Valuable intellectual property

Hackers exploit their networks & trusted relationships

Why is higher education so vulnerable?

The education sector has had to quickly embrace digital transformation to create new digital learning environments
The vast number of devices accessing their network is a challenge, on top of that, the majority of devices are BYOD (bring your own device)
Students are easy targets, being young and inexperienced, they are more susceptible to falling victim of phishing attacks
Budgets are tight due to declining international student enrolments. Budget restrictions often result in security being put on the back-burner

What is the impact?

Over the 2020–21 financial year, the ACSC received over 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year. Through this period, the education sector was identified as one of the top five sectors accounting for approximately 6.2% of incidents.

This equates to around one cyber attack in the education sector every two hours!

This has enormous implications for educational institutions . . .

Costs associated with outages, damage and recovery

Critical operations being offline

Reputational damage

Legal implications

How should higher educational institutions protect themselves?

As cyber crime groups continuously evolve and improve their technologies, Australian universities need to ensure they do not lag behind in updating their security procedures and protective measures to prevent future attacks on their infrastructure.

University’s ability to quickly detect, investigate and respond to cyber attacks will be crucial in minimising the impact to its operations, maintaining its reputation and to protect sensitive data.

Gaining sufficient visibility for an organisation doesn’t have to be expensive nor complex.

And it is worth the money. Remember, remediation costs for a cyber security incident can be far greater than early and ongoing investment in being prepared.

What we recommend

Blind spots are the enemy of every organisation . . .

Organisations need complete visibility over their IT environment, only then will they be able to identify if abnormal activity is occurring.

Sounds like a big project? It doesn’t have to be. These days smart technology makes light work of centralising required event logging, auditing data and automatically responding to defend against cyber threats.

We recommend investing in tools AND people – not only one of them!

Cyber security awareness training to keep security top of mind for students and staff
SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) to centralise event & security logs and provide real-time analysis of security alerts
SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation & Response) to automate the investigation and responses to security threats
XDR (Extended Detection & Response) tools for behavioural analytics at end points


The Skillfield team has published some industry specific blog posts relating to the challenges education institutions face and how they can best protect their infrastructure, information, reputation and people.


Not sure where to start?

Contact us to start the conversation on how to protect your organisation.