There’s never a ‘good’ time to suffer a cyber attack, but there are certainly a few dates in the year when the financial and reputational effects of a website or email failure will be more damaging than others.
One of those key periods is approaching right now for the further and higher education sector: clearing and enrolment.
During this time, institutions need to ensure all internet-facing systems such as websites, virtual private networks (VPN), SIP/telephone and email systems are running smoothly and uninterrupted.
During July and October 2019, our security operations centre (SOC) noticed 197 DDoS attacks against the further and higher education sector, which represents about two thirds of all such attacks on the Janet Network in this period. These attacks are designed to bring down a network by flooding it with data.
Because of the coronavirus, which has forced almost all staff to work at home, VPNs - which protect data by encrypting it before it travels over the internet - are more important than ever. As more people are using them, they have become more of a target in the last few months.
It’s a sad fact that cyber criminals always find ways to take advantage of global disasters and during the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. There’s been much in the media about phishing attacks connected with the virus, and the National Cyber Security Centre has encouraged the public to flag such scams.
But none of this recent nefarious activity is unusual in cyber space. Indeed, our security operations center (SOC), which monitors and protects the Janet Network, reports that it’s business as usual; the threats remain the same, it’s the methods and targets that tend to adapt to new situations.
Colleges and universities that have robust cyber security measures in place should be as safe as they can be at any time of year, including during clearing and enrolment, but not all institutions are as well protected as they could be.
This unprecedented lockdown presents some additional challenges for IT and security staff who have had to respond at speed to support thousands of staff and students to work and study remotely, while keeping data safe.
For many, clearing and enrolment is also going to be very different this year, with the need for reliable alternative approaches in place for processing these requests.
So, universities and colleges looking for that ‘extra’ bit of DDoS security and/or peace of mind through clearing and enrolment this year can benefit from our one-off critical services protection package running between July and October 2020.
This new DDoS protection package is being offered as part of our existing critical services protection service (previously known as enhanced DDoS mitigation) to protect a range of business-critical services including web, SIP, VPN, VLEs and firewalls.