You don’t usually think about Universities and educational institutions being “businesses,” but the truth is, they have a lot in common with some companies. Universities have large amounts of highly qualified people working there. Many of these skilled people have vast reserves of knowledge that they gained from studying and researching for many years. Many of the “things” we use in our daily lives, the core idea started on the campuses of famous educational institutions. In fact, digital technology and even the Internet of things first started as research projects in the labs of universities. All this knowledge needs to be put somewhere and that “somewhere” is going to be, you guessed it, servers and other digital storage devices.
Therefore, it is not surprising to hear that bad actors see universities as mouth-watering entities that need to be hacked. The news these days will occasionally mention hackers trying to get into the database of prestigious universities. However, the truth is, universities are a constant target for hackers who will stop at nothing to steal from them. Then there are the more mundane things that make colleges similar to ordinary businesses. Not all hackers are interested in highfalutin research and development material. They want to hack into financial transactions, get some ransom money, and even tamper with grades, in some rare cases. Shockingly, despite all the attacks, many universities still do not do enough to protect themselves with systems such as the ones SKY ECC offers.
Why Universities Need to Practice Good Data Security Hygiene
Unlike some random celebrity who’s phone gets hacked, universities are not exactly exciting places, which may explain why hacks into them rarely become front-page news. However, colleges, especially the more famous ones, such as the ivy league institutions, are continuously being monitored by hackers from all over the world. There are, of course, the usual suspects such as China and Russia, but even more low-profile countries like Iran are not far behind. Recently, Russian hackers stole from nearly 400 universities all around the world. Many suspects that it was a state-sponsored act.
In the last few years, Chinese hackers got into the systems of 27 universities looking for research related to maritime activity and related information. Iran has also done its share of hacking universities, looking for unpublished, valuable academic studies. All in all, nearly 8000 researchers in over 300 universities were hacked, resulting in a huge amount of intellectual property loss. Most of these attacks from these countries took place just in the last couple of years. The sad part of all this is that it does not take much effort to stop all this thievery if proper security measures and practices are in place. This is where a company such as SKY ECC could play a vital role in drastically reducing breach of security.
A Case Study of What Happens When a University Suffers From Hacking
In 2016 the University of Calgary was hacked by ransom seeking criminals. The hacker asked to be paid $20K if the university wanted access to their information and systems. In this incident, staff and students lost access to their email, research, and all other digital data for a week. The college had to ban the use of any UC computer during this event, and all college staff members were reduced to using walkie talkies to communicate with each other. An exasperated IT department sets up a temporary email service using servers that work outside the university system. Finally, the ransom money is paid, and life goes back to “normal”. The sad part of the story is that even after the ransom money was paid, the decryption keys given by the hackers did not function properly for all their systems.
Sky ECC to the Rescue
So, you may wonder how a product such as the ones given by SKY ECC would have helped at the University of Calgary (UC) scenario. The following is a step-by-step account of how SKY ECC’s hack-proof communication tools would have helped UC, had they been using it.
- The trump card of SKY ECC’s system is that it works on a completely independent system. All communications happen through our dedicated servers and encryption technology. What this means for the user is that only those who are part of the SKY ECC system will get messages or any other data. In the UC example, staff would have been able to detect any fishy behavior, usually fraudulent emails, while using SKY ECC’s platform, and stopped before things got out of hand. All contacts are verified on SKY ECC’s system, leaving no room for ambiguity regarding whom you are communicating with.
- When systems go down in a hack, you will not lose days or even hours trying to figure out how to communicate with each other. As soon as university email systems stopped working, staff would be able to continue chatting with each other, unbeknownst to the hackers. This would have given the IT team and the authorities to formulate a plan to deal with the situation, without the hackers finding out.
The Staggering Cost of Ransomware
As bad as the UC case was, there are other situations where hospitals, businesses, governmental organizations, etc. paid huge amounts of money in ransom, and not to mention revenue loss as a result of the hack. By comparison, UC got off lightly. The amount of revenue loss due to hacks touched $800 million in 2016, and close to $6million handed out in ransom! With SKY ECC’s platform in place, these numbers would have been a lot less or even none at all. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, people only take action after something bad happens. When a system such as the ones offered by SKY ECC is in place, all your important data will be backed up, and all communication takes place on tamper-proof devices and applications. The “secret sauce” of SKY ECC include unbreakable encryption (even we can’t break into it), a highly secure backbone, and many security features on the app itself.