Education providers are encouraged to take up two free services from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to help protect their websites and email servers from cyber attacks and spoofing.
The internet is an integral part in the way colleges, universities and research centres operate, but if vulnerabilities are found and exploited by cyber criminals there could be potentially catastrophic consequences.
To help, the NCSC has rolled out Web Check and Mail Check, which are both free to higher and further education sector providers. It’s hoping for 70% of UK institutions to sign up before the end of March.
Web Check scans websites to check for common, significant vulnerabilities. It does not require a high level of technical skill to install and, once set up, it will run regular, automatic checks.
The service will automatically send a report with the scan results, categorised by severity, together with advice on how to fix any identified problems.
Mail Check is a tool to support technical teams to prevent email spoofing. Putting in place the correct technical security measures will help maintain the integrity of emails by ensuring the content is not altered or read in transit, arrives in its intended state and comes from a legitimate sender.
It requires a little more input and an ongoing commitment from technical teams to set up, but the NCSC provides one-to-one support and troubleshooting for that.
Jisc’s head of cyber defence, Dr John Chapman, is keen for colleges and universities to make use of both free tools. He says:
“At any time, but particularly now because the pandemic has forced most of us into remote working, keeping online services like websites and email systems working smoothly is absolutely crucial.
“Cyber attacks are a constant threat and, if successful, can harm organisations through the loss of data, service provision and network availability, not to mention the financial and reputational cost and the impact on staff and students.
“Implementing anti-spoofing measures can reduce the risk of malware entering and spreading through organisations and their communities, which can be devastating.
“As with any security tool or service, Mail Check and Web Check should be considered as part of a holistic cyber security and information security strategy that provides robust defenses across the whole organisation. Any Jisc member that needs help with that can come to us for advice.”
Jisc members can find more advice and information about cyber security, and sign up for Networkshop49, 27-29 April 2021.