Nation-states and criminal gangs often get the blame for cyber attacks against universities, but a new analysis of campaigns against the education sector suggests that students — or even staff — could be perpetrators of many of these attacks. Attributing cyber attacks is often a difficult task but Jisc, a not-for-profit digital support service for higher education, examined hundreds of DDoS attacks against universities and has come to the conclusion that “clear patterns” show these incidents take place during term-time and during the working day — and dramatically drop when students are on holiday. “This pattern could indicate that attackers are students or staff, or others familiar with the academic cycle. Or perhaps the bad guys simply take holidays at the same time as the education sector,” said John Chapman, head of security operations at Jisc. While the research paper notes that in many cases the reasons behind these DDoS campaigns can only be speculated about, just for fun, for the kudos and to settle grudges are cited as potential reasons. In one case, a DDoS attack against a university network which took place across four nights in a row was found to be specifically targeting halls of residence. In this instance, the attacker was launching an attack in order to disadvantage a rival in online games. SEE: Cybercrime and cyberwar: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you The research notes that attacks against universities usually drop off during the summer — when students and… [Read full story]
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