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Elevating cybersecurity on the higher education leadership agenda

Increasing executive fluency and engagement in cyber risk

Universities are a frequent target for cyberattacks because of the sensitive data their IT systems often house combined with the vulnerabilities that come with an open-access culture. Successful higher education cybersecurity requires communication between the IT department and institutional leaders, so they can be more effective in preventing attacks and bouncing back after an incident occurs.

From ransomware attacks and breaches compromising the personal information of students, faculty, and staff to denial-of-service attacks that render learning-management and other systems unavailable during important times, cybersecurity threats pose an increasingly common business risk to colleges and universities.

Institutions of higher education are attractive targets for two reasons. First, like health care organisations and financial institutions, colleges and universities house a wide variety of sensitive and lucrative data, including Identity numbers, financial information, medical records, intellectual property, and cutting-edge research. And second, higher education’s open-access culture, decentralised departmental or unit-level control, as well as federated access to data and information makes it a particularly vulnerable target for unauthorised access, unsafe Internet usage, and malware.

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