Cyber-attackers targeting UK independent schools

61% of UK independent schools have been targeted by cybercriminals in the last five years

A report from Endsleigh Insurance Services has found that 61% of UK independent schools have been targeted for cyber-attacks in the last five years.

‘Independent but insecure? The growing cyber security risks facing the independent education sector’ also reveals that less than 40% of those surveyed consider themselves a target for cybercriminals, with only 1% saying they felt ‘highly vulnerable’.

Despite the frequency of cyber-attacks within the sector, only 38% of independent schools monitor their cybersecurity policy at least once a month.

Threats of malware (58%) phishing scams (51%) and hackers (40%) topped the list of schools’ concerns. Consequences of such attacks include file encryption and deletion, extortion and financial loss, and reputational damage.

It is the ever-evolving nature of cyber risks which makes them so difficult to counter.
– John Murphie, IBSA

John Murphie, COO at the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (IBSA) said: “It is the ever-evolving nature of cyber risks which makes them so difficult to counter. However, strict adherence to basic cybersafety measures and a high degree of ‘cyber hygiene’ with good staff training will be key.”

Independent schools are responsible for keeping ‘special category’ data such as religious beliefs, medical history and sexual orientation secure, as well as financial details of fee-paying parents and guardians.

The report also revealed that cyber risks faced by independent schools are not limited to criminal activity, and include accidental data breaches through loss of devices or human error.

The full report can be found at https://www.endsleigheducation.co.uk/independent-but-insecure/