A data breach is just one of several cyber security threats to schools and universities.
Data breaches tend to be popular with threat actors because the PII that can be gleaned has the potential to be lucrative. Hackers can gain access through a third-party partner or vendor and escalate their access to the broader university network to steal data. They can even cause havoc such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that can cripple school operations.
The value of the information residing in institutions of higher learning makes ransomware one of the bigger cyber security threats to schools and universities. Introduced through a phishing scam or malware, ransomware steals data and disrupts operations because student records, research data or course content becomes inaccessible until the university pays the ransom.
Phishing is a common way of executing a ransomware attack because faculty, students and other support workers are all potential targets. Threat actors trick them into clicking on a fraudulent link with emails that look legitimate to entice them to share access to systems, valuable PII or even money.
University campuses are also full of unsecured personal devices, such as cell phones, that connect to the university network, and it's simply not possible for IT staff to review each one to make sure they're safe and secure. When you factor in the adoption of cloud computing and education delivery models that have students learning on campus and online, warding off cyber security threats to schools and universities is more complex than ever.