Apr 28 2023

Report Shows Malware Attacks on the Rise in Higher Education

SonicWall’s annual Cyber Threat Report also indicates concern about ransomware remains high.

The education sector was among the top industries impacted by cybercrime in 2022, according to the 2023 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report. The report collected real-world data from SonicWall’s Capture Threat Network, which monitors and collects information from more than 1.1 million sensors across the company’s global devices.

Ransomware Attacks Down as Malware Targets IoT Devices

Globally, ransomware attacks dropped by 21 percent year over year and were down 29 percent in the higher education sector. The report’s authors suggest that this decline might be attributed to large-scale ransomware gang busts and cybercriminals diversifying their attack methods. Still, SonicWall notes that ransomware attacks rose in the last quarter of 2022, suggesting a potential rebound.

Malware attacks rose 2 percent year over year — the first increase since 2018 — reaching 5.5 billion.

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The largest increase in malware was in the education sector, where volume climbed 157 percent. However, this number accounts for combined attacks against higher education and K–12 institutions; attacks specifically targeting higher education customers rose 26 percent, while attacks targeting K–12 more than tripled.

Malware attacks targeting Internet of Things devices also rose, climbing 87 percent year over year overall. The education sector saw a 146 percent increase in these attacks since 2021. According to the report’s authors, this increase can be attributed to weak security controls on smart devices, suggesting a need for stronger regulation.

Customers Remain Concerned About Ransomware Attacks

In SonicWall’s inaugural Threat Mindset Survey, a global survey of customers from all industries, respondents noted their biggest cyber concerns. At the top of the list were ransomware (91 percent), phishing and spear phishing (76 percent) and encrypted malware (66 percent). Two-thirds of respondents were more concerned about cyberattacks in 2022 than the previous year; only 5 percent were less concerned.

UP NEXT: Here are 4 benefits of outsourcing your university’s cybersecurity.

Jakub and Jedrzej Krzyszkowski/Stocksy

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