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60% of educational organisations have been hit by phishing attacks – Netwrix survey

Survey: 60% of educational organisations hit by phishing attacks targeting cloud data, the highest result of all verticals analysed

In addition, 27% of educational organisations suffered a ransomware attack, and 49% of them needed days to detect it, a Netwrix study reveals

LONDON, UK– Netwrix, a cybersecurity vendor that makes data security easy, today announced findings for the education sector from the global 2021 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report.

The majority of educational organisations experienced phishing attacks (60%) and account compromise (33%) in 2020. Phishing was the most common incident suffered by all verticals analysed in the report, but the frequency of this type of attack in the educational sector was much higher than the average of 40%. Also, 27% of educational organisations experienced ransomware and 49% were unaware of the infection for days. Given the FBI’s recent warning about PYSA ransomware targeting schools in the US and UK, security pros in the education sector should be vigilant about this attack type.

The majority of respondents attribute their high level of vulnerability in the cloud to understaffed IT and security teams (53%), lack of expertise in cloud security (52%), and lack of budget (49%).

Other survey findings for the educational vertical include:

  • 48% of educational organisations store employee data in the cloud, and 30% store student data there
  • 93% needed days or weeks to discover accidental data leakage, and 33% needed weeks to recover from these types of incidents
  • Among institutions that had a data breach, 33% faced unforeseen costs to fix security gaps
  • 33% of respondents reported that their cybersecurity spending and priorities remained the same despite changes brought by the pandemic. 27% stayed within their existing budgets but changed their priorities

“Because educational institutions are understaffed and lack funding for sufficient training, the sector struggles to adequately respond to the ever-changing cyber threat landscape. With IT teams forced to be reactive instead of proactive towards security, the current wave of PYSA ransomware attacks can easily lead to breaches. To secure employee and student data within their unique financial constraints, these institutions need automated tools to locate sensitive data and speed detection of abnormal activity to ensure rapid response and mitigate security risks,” said Ilia Sotnikov, Vice President of Product Management at Netwrix.

To get the complete findings of the 2021 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report, please visit