New Report Details Most Universities Too Slow to Respond to Cyber Threats

EfficientIP, leading specialist in network protection, have revealed in its 2018 Global DNS Threat Report that the higher education sector ranks as one of the worst business sectors to handle potential cyber threats. As Universities continue to be a hot target for hackers. The report details that almost three-quarters of institutions (73%) took three days or more to apply a patch after notification. The report also highlights the cost per DNS-based attack soared 68% to $690,000 in the Education sector last year.

The rising cost per attack and the increased volume of DNS-based threats means no sector is safe, especially in higher education. With universities across the country planning to open their doors to the fall semester, students, teachers, staff members and visitors will arrive with multiple IP-enabled devices. Unfortunately, these devices can become a threat to the very IT networks that support them. The consequences of unsecured IoT devices on a campus network can vary, from a hacker hijacking them in order to launch DDoS attacks, to a proactive shutdown of services in order to protect the overall network from intruders. It’s paramount that universities review how they identify, analyse and block DNS-based threats – otherwise, they will remain vulnerable and a potential target.

Dennis Borin, Senior Solutions Architect at EfficientIP, who has fortified over 75 notable higher education institutions globally believes, “DNS security must be considered a key component of the overall network security strategy on campus. Universities need a complete view and a clear contingency plan to avoid a network outage or cyberattack. Institutions need to consider fast risk mitigation with the right network tools to prevent and detect DNS attacks.”

“Campuses are hosting everything from laptops to smartphones, which make it a challenge for the university’s IT department to assume those devices are secure. In the case of a network attack, multiple devices will make it difficult to respond instantly and with the right countermeasures. Being able to quickly recognise and investigate the threat, plus tying all the access controls to a centralised authority management system is critical to a campus network.”
As a proud EDUCAUSE member, EfficientIP recommends five best practices for universities to protect sensitive data and service assurance:

Enhance threat intelligence on domain reputation with data feeds which provide menace insight from global traffic analysis. Benefit: Protect users from internal/external attacks by blocking malware activity and mitigating data exfiltration attempts.

Augment your threat visibility using real-time, context-aware DNS transaction analytics for behavioral threat detection. Benefit: Detect all threat types, prevent data theft, help meet regulatory compliance such as GDPR and US CLOUD Act.

Apply adaptive countermeasures via graduated security measures relevant to threats. Benefit: Ensure business continuity even when the attack source is unidentifiable and mitigate risks of blocking legitimate users.

Harden security for cloud/next-gen datacenters with a purpose-built DNS security solution, overcoming limitations of solutions from cloud providers. Benefit: Ensure continued access to cloud services and apps, protect against exfiltration of cloud-stored data.

Incorporate DNS into a global network security solution to recognise unusual or malicious activity and inform the broader security ecosystem. Benefit: Holistic network security, to address growing network risks and protect against the lateral movement of threats

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