University College London (UCL) have released information in a Freedom of Information request based around cyber-attacks. The information released was interesting, including the revelation that over 500 cyber-attacks were thwarted in a 15-month period. While this figure might seem high – this figure is a reflection on the world we live in – with cyber-attacks becoming an inevitable part of life in a technology-oriented world. No sensitive data was compromised during the attacks. Read on for more.
A cyber attack can appear in many forms – and as seen with the range of hacks that have taken place in years gone by – can have a hugely detrimental effect on an organisation. In this case, UCL were affected by phishing attacks, spear phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, SQL injection attacks and rootkit attacks – all between the September 2016 and December 2017 period. The Freedom of Information request revealed that over 500 attacks took place in this time. This means that UCL were hit by around 3 attacks each week in this time frame.
Phishing and spear phishing attacks are relatively simple to contain – which is useful because at least 450 phishing and spear phishing attacks took place in this time. Ransomware attacks can be more complex to combat, with UCL receiving under 25 attacks during the time frame. These took between 1 and 2 days to rectify. Under 100 SQL injection attacks were made, with this attack usually looking to expose a flaw in a system to access a database – which would obviously have major ramifications for an organisation of UCL’s size. Under 5 rootkit attacks took place in this time.
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These statistics were interesting, and show the alarming nature of cyber-attacks. While some of these attacks are easy to contain, others can have more of a negative effect on an organisation. Fortunately, it appears UCL have strong provisions in place that ensure attacks are contained. Keeping sensitive data private is of paramount importance to Universities.