UK Open University targeted with over 1 million malicious attacks via email from January to September 2020, according to data received from think tank Parliament Street at the request of the Freedom of Information (FoI).
According to Infosecurity Magazine, the data revealed that the UK Open University, which offers flexible undergraduate and graduate courses for adults of all ages, received a nine-month period, averaging 132.368 attacks and spam per month. However, each of the 1.191.312 malicious emails, which included side effects, malware and Phishing attacks, were successfully blocked by the servers of the Open University. More specifically, 6.804 emails were blocked due to suspected malware, while 16.452 phishing emails were detected and blocked.
More generally, with the outbreak of its global pandemic COVID-19 Numerous educational institutions around the world have been targeted, with malicious agents taking advantage of the new conditions created by e-learning. Indicatively, a survey published in September revealed that DDoS Attacks on online educational resources are more than three times more common in 2020 than in 2019.
Chris Ross, Sales SVP at Barracuda Networks, said the nature of the Open University and the fact that most of its courses are currently offered online paves the way for cybercriminals try to target the data stored on servers which also explains the large number of fraud attacks faced by the educational institution. Ross added that phishing attacks are targeting educational institutions around the world at this critical juncture, with more than 3,5 million phishing emails sent to more than 1.000 schools and universities from June to September 2020.
Ross stressed, however, that the UK Open University has so far managed to protect itself from possible infringement while maintaining security standards and being constantly updated with the right information software and training to keep up with the rapidly changing and evolving cyber threats.
In addition, because of the sensitivity of the information stored on their servers, educational institutions must ensure that all data is backed up to a third-party, encrypted service. in cloud, which will also provide protection from the growing ransomware attacks targeting, among others, schools and universities worldwide.