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Academia has faced fresh warnings of cyber-attacks after a rise was recorded in August when students returned.

According to an alert issued by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) there has been a recent spike in ransomware attacks against UK schools, colleges and universities. It claimed that, in recent incidents, it has observed remote desktop protocols and unpatched software and hardware being utilized, as well as attackers using phishing emails to deploy ransomware.

Attackers have also sabotaged backup or auditing devices to make recovery more difficult, encrypted entire virtual servers and used scripting environments (including PowerShell) to deploy tooling or ransomware.

Paul Chichester, director of operations at the NCSC, called the targeting of the education sector “utterly reprehensible” at such a challenging time.

“While these have been isolated incidents, I would strongly urge all academic institutions to take heed of our alert and put in place the steps we suggest, to help ensure young people are able to return to education undisrupted,” he said. ““We are absolutely committed to ensuring UK academia is as safe as possible from cyber-threats, and will not hesitate to act when that threat evolves.”
 
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