U.S. joins international partnership to shine light on growing cyberattacks

The coalition comes at a time when higher education institutions continue to be attacked by malicious, finance-driven cybercriminal organizations.

“Calling on all internet users: Protect yourself and your devices!” This is the message from the Biden Administration to all school and government organizations amidst persistent and malicious cyber threats.

On Tuesday, the U.S. joined Australia, India and Japan in the Quad Cyber Challenge, a resource-sharing initiative to raise awareness around cyber threats against education and government institutions. The announcement comes at a time when the education sector is the single-most targeted industry for cyberattacks.

“When it comes to ransomware operations, organizations with sensitive data and critical operations are key targets, as these two factors put significant pressure on victims to pay the ransom demand to restore operations and ensure their data isn’t exposed,” said Cyber Threat Intelligence Manager at the Center for Internet Security (CIS) TJ Sayers in a recent interview with District Administration. This is true for both K12 and higher education institutions alike.

One of the most prominent incidents was the ransomware attack by Vice Society against the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country. The attack sent chills down the spines of smaller, less-resourceful schools.

“Internet users worldwide are targets of cybercrime and other malicious cyber threats that can cost trillions of dollars each year and compromise sensitive, personal data,” according to a statement from the White House. “Many cyber attacks can be guarded against by simple preventative measures.”

Educational institutions will become a key focus of this initiative. In April, colleges and universities will be invited to take part in the challenge to “improve cyber hygiene.” According to the website, participants can cooperate as an individual or with the entire school. There’s also a checklist that schools can provide to their students and staff to follow to practice online safety habits. These include:

  • Installing security updates
  • Changing passwords
  • Using password managers
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Locking devices
  • Backing up files
  • Avoiding oversharing on social media
  • Bookmarking important sites
  • Using safe and reliable email providers
  • Deleting unused apps
  • Avoiding public Wi-Fi and charging stations
  • Being mindful of what you click on

“Malicious cyber actors are constantly seeking ways to exploit any opportunity to get in your systems, such as through out-of-date software, unsecured apps that leave your data exposed, or easy-to-guess passwords,” the checklist reads.

The initiative, which is scheduled for April 10-14, simply aims to provide institutions with the tools and resources necessary to practice online safety. More educational resources may be released in the coming months.

More from UB: For cybercriminals, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://universitybusiness.com
Micah Ward is a University Business staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

Most Popular