Colleges ‘over-estimating’ cyber-attack readiness

A quarter of colleges suffered attempts to knock their internet services offline last year, research by Jisc shows

Colleges may be over-estimating their ability to guard against a cyber-attack, Jisc says

Colleges may be over-estimating their ability to guard against a cyber-attack, new research suggests.

Jisc, which provides digital services for the FE and HE sector, has published the results of a recent survey it conducted which show colleges are more optimistic than universities over their perceived level of protection from a cyber-attack.

The mean score that colleges gave themselves for cyber-attack preparedness was 7.1 out of 10, which was more optimistic than universities’ mean score of 5.9.

Last year, a quarter of colleges suffered a DDoS attack – an attempt to knock their internet services offline. Both the number of colleges being hit and the frequency of attacks are on the rise, according to Jisc.

Colleges 'in the dark'

John Chapman, head of Jisc’s security operations centre, said colleges appeared to be unrealistic about the risk, adding: “There are many more threats out there that they need to be aware of and need to defend themselves against.

“We are concerned that this optimistic score could be due to the lack of security specialists working in the FE sector, leaving colleges in the dark.”

Jisc funding cut

Jisc is planning to introduce a subscription model for its services after the Department for Education said it would cut its funding from August 2019.

The new subscription model would hit larger colleges with bills of up to £100,000 for Jisc services.

Last month, Tes reported that Collab Group, which represents larger colleges, has been given the green light to prepare a tender for services currently offered by Jisc.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes