In the past year alone the topic on everyone’s lips has been around cyber-security. While cyber-crime has moved up the business agenda, it’s clear from the recent global ransomware attacks that we’ve still got a long way to go in protecting ourselves from looming threats. 


But where are some of the opportunities for attackers coming from? 


One in particular is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. After all, allowing employees to use their own smartphones, tablets and laptops has the potential to open the wider business up to potential attacks. Why? Because more often than not, it’s very difficult for organisations to regulate and monitor which protection – if any – their employees are using. 


Increasingly a number of universities are overhauling their networks in order to provide employees and students with more network access capabilities and flexibility. Whilst this is demonstrative of education institutions moving with the digital tide, the fact that the average size of a UK university runs into the ten thousands means the likelihood of an infected device spreading malicious attacks across the entire campus is ever more probable.   


With this in mind, here are three key things universities should be considering: 


1. Data from machines that aren’t being used on the network anymore should be removed 

As these can hold desirable data to hackers, universities should be identifying the machines that aren’t being used anymore. As such, it is HR personnel’s responsibility to monitor and manage the user database to ensure data is stripped from devices of anyone that has left the institution. Failing to do this could leave the door open for cyber-attacks, potentially compromising the network. 


2. Universities should look at hosting training and coaching sessions 

As students come to university to learn, learning about the importance of cyber-safety can be a valuable experience. As the future of business owners and employees and most importantly – educators of the citizens of tomorrow – it is vital foruniversities to invest time and effort into educating students on the impact their actions have online. After all, viruses and malware can often be just one click away. 


3. Provide guidance on specs/software

At the very least, universities should be guiding users to make sure everyone is using the same level of protection. Already, universities are taking note of the specifications machines should adhere to before granting access to the academic network. In addition to this, and with the explosion of the Internet of Things, there must be a joint effort to keep the network free of malware. For this, university administrators must proactively take steps towards ensuring all members of the network are using up-to-date apps and platforms, and if possible, provide appropriate software. 

Author: Matt Green - Client Director for Education, Insight UK


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