Education institutions at increased risk of malware attacks

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), academic institutions including universities, schools and colleges are currently at an increased risk of malware attacks. Malware, or malicious software, is often sent to a user via email (phishing) or downloaded onto a user’s computer or phone when they visit an unsafe website. Using unsecured devices or remote desktop software while working from home can also present criminals with an opportunity, unless properly protected. The malware may lock users out of their devices, delete their files or demand financial payment known as a ransom. For educational institutions, malware may mean students and teachers cannot work on their devices. In the worst-case scenario, students could lose vital coursework prepared for their GCSEs and A Levels. With the challenges of following Covid guidelines and keeping students safe at the moment, a cyber-attack would be especially ill-timed and difficult to deal with. To prevent a malware attack, the NCSC recommends organisations assume that it will happen and take precautions seriously. Some of the actions to consider include backing up files offline as well as online, filtering mailboxes to prevent malicious emails and using the internet in line with a safe browsing list. You can read more at: For more guidance, follow our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles where we share regular cyber security updates. This month, we have focused in particular on support information for educational institutions.