Cyber threat to disrupt start of university term
Universities and colleges are being warned by the UK's cyber-security agency that rising numbers of cyber-attacks are threatening to disrupt the start of term.
The National Cyber Security Centre has issued an alert after a recent spike in attacks on educational institutions.
These have been "ransomware" incidents which block access to computer systems.
Paul Chichester, the NCSC's director of operations, says such attacks are "reprehensible".
The return to school, college and university, already facing problems with Covid-19, now faces an increased risk from cyber-attacks, which the security agency says could "de-rail their preparations for the new term".
The cyber-security body, part of the GCHQ intelligence agency, says such attacks can have a "devastating impact" and take weeks or months to put right.
Newcastle University and Northumbria have both been targeted by cyber-attacks this month, and a group of further education colleges in Yorkshire and a higher education college in Lancashire faced attacks last month.
The warning from the NCSC follows a spate of ransomware attacks against academic institutions - in which malicious software or "malware" is used to lock out users from their own computer systems, paralysing online services, websites and phone networks.
The security agency says this is often followed by a ransom note demanding payment for the recovery of this frozen or stolen data - sometimes with the added threat of publicly releasing sensitive information.
Universities have frequently been targets of cyber-attacks - with up to a thousand attacks per year in the UK.
Attacks can be attempts to obtain valuable research information that ...
More on: www.bbc.co.uk