Over 80% of malware attacks target education sector as back-to-school season nears

Edward G. | August 9, 2022

With the school season approaching, parents hurry to get their children supplies while students enjoy their last days of summer. 

However, barely anyone realizes that enterprises in the education sector are currently under a barrage of malware attacks. Data presented by Atlas VPN reveals that the education industry has been the primary target for cyberattacks in the last 30 days. 

Over 80% of malware attacks globally were aimed at companies in the education sector, totaling 5.13 million attacks for the period, which comes out to an average of 171 thousand attacks daily.  

The data for the analysis was extracted via Microsoft’s Security Intelligence platform. 

One of the reasons why the education industry became the main target is the shift towards digitalization. The pandemic forced e-institutions to employ technologies that enable students to complete the curricula and exams. 

In turn, a lot of new companies sprang up as they saw the opportunity in the market.

However, video conferencing programs, e-learning software, and other digital tools expanded the cyberattack surface exponentially. 

It is worth noting that the aforementioned attacks are directed toward enterprises, not institutions. In other words, the data provided shows the number of attacks on businesses in the educational sector, not on schools, colleges, and universities.

Moving ahead, retail and consumer goods businesses reported close to 575 thousand malware encounters within the last month.

While it is a significant volume of malware encounters, it is almost 9 times less than the number of cyberattacks in the education sector. 

Companies in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals (329,820), telecommunications (141,598), power and utilities (93,662), financial services and insurance (93,258) industries share the remaining 10% of malware encounters in the last 30 days. 

The danger of malware attacks

Most understand that malware is a type of cyberattack that can cause harm to the recipient. Still, the process of infection and the possible outcome of a successful attack usually remains unclear.

First, let’s clarify how malware gets onto a computer. 

Essentially, when users download files from the web onto a device, they risk getting infected with malware. However, there are types of malware that are fileless and are much sneakier and harder to detect, as they only require a script to be executed.

In terms of the infection process, one of the main issues is that fraudsters can create a nearly identical copy of a website, email, or advertisement to lure victims into downloading malware or executing malicious scripts. 

The victim might even be able to install the application and use it, but at the same time, they installed malicious software, which enables hackers to infiltrate the system.

This is particularly dangerous when users with administrative rights get hacked, as it can lead to data theft, data leaks, and ransomware demands.

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Edward G.

Edward G.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.

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