Cyberattacks at Universities are on the Rise

Cyberattacks are becoming a common problem on college campuses. America’s research universities are often the targets. These universities are at the hub of information exchanges through out the world. Most of the attacks are thought to come from China. NY Times is reporting that millions of hacking attempts happen weekly.

The campuses targeted are being forced to tighten security which is preventing them from their normal open exchange of information and causing them to take time to find out what information was stolen. Officials have stated that some of the hacking attempts have succeeded and those that have succeeded are often not known about until well after the breach occurred. The universities are remaining silent on the specific nature of the breaches except for those that have involved the theft of personal data. Personal data includes social security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, etc.

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Rodney J. Petersen, head of the cybersecurity program at Educause, a nonprofit alliance of school and tech companies, told NY Times, “The attacks are increasing exponentially, and so is the sophistication, and I think it’s outpaced our ability to respond. So everyone’s investing a lot more resources in detecting this, so we learn of even more incidents we wouldn’t have know about before.”

The problem that the universities are facing with cyber attacks is that it puts the research work at critical risk. Patents for prescription drugs, computer chips, fuel cells, medical devices and many other products and services that could be stolen for commercial, political or national security value.

The numbers of cyberattacks are doubling every few years putting universities on edge trying to figure out the source of the attacks and what has been stolen. The schools are also on edge because it appears that every time they fix a breach, a new hack occurs with more sophisticated technology.

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Bill Mellon, associate dean for research policy at University of Wisconsin, said of the increased cyberattacks, “We get 90,000 to 100,000 attempts per day, from China alone, to penetrate our system. There are also a lot from Russia, and recently a lot from Vietnam, but it’s primarily China.”

The schools that have noticed the most attempts coming from China have not figured out whether the hackers are private or governmental.