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Cybersecurity: research centers, new targets of choice for hackers

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The digital protection of scientific institutions is now an alarming problem, given the alarming increase in cyber attacks, particularly those involving ransomware. These attacks are significantly hampering the smooth running of research work, causing significant delays in the progress of projects, disrupting the student registration process and putting a strain on the psychological balance of scientists.

It is therefore appropriate to look into these recent incidents which have shook the academic world and to examine the strategies implemented to counter these pressures.

When cyberattacks paralyze science

Last fall, the Natural History Museum in Berlin was the target of a major cyber offensive, paralyzing all of its research activities . Researchers have been deprived of access to their valuable data and the software tools essential to their work, thus plunging many projects into a state of stasis and leaving students in uncertainty. Johannes Vogel, head of the museum, called this event the most trying experience of his thirteen years as director.

Unfortunately, these digital assaults are not isolated cases. Institutions as renowned as the British Library, the University of Manchester and Stanford have also suffered this type of attack. The tactic favored by these cybercriminals is the use of ransomware, locking down the data and systems of the targeted infrastructures until a ransom is paid. A perfidious tactic that the Lockbit group has used numerous times, as was the case recently at the Simone-Veil hospital in Cannes.

At l’ Berlin University of Applied Sciences (BHT), a malicious intrusion by the hacker group Akira also blocked all digital services, thus depriving teaching staff and students access to their emails and other vital resources.

After the attack, the arduous task of rebuilding

The recovery process following a cyber intrusion proves to be a colossal challenge. At the Natural History Museum in Berlin, the rehabilitation of the systems required several months of sustained effort, and the full Restoration of IT services will not be completed until the end of the current year.

At the BHT, the inability to access electronic messaging has caused considerable delays in essential procedures, such as the organization of thesis defenses or the consultation of scientific publications. In addition, this digital offensive has disrupted the student registration process, forcing some to turn to other academic establishments.

Faced with this significant damage, some institutions are implementing draconian measures. Thus, the BHT opted for a total disconnection of its servers from the Internet network, gradually restoring connections by prioritizing vital services such as the management of remuneration and registrations.

Establishing new safety standards, an imperative measure

If hackers particularly target these institutions, it is not by chance. These frequently take advantage of vulnerabilities inherent in the security systems of academic establishments. Harjinder Singh Lallie, a cybersecurity specialist at the University of Warwick, highlights the particular appeal of this type of infrastructure for cybercriminals, due to of their substantial financial resources and the precious data they contain.

The frequent obsolescence of protection systems, combined with the heterogeneity of devices used by staff and students, considerably exacerbates the risks of intrusion. In order to protect themselves against these threats, these institutions must increase their security measures. These include the implementation of multi-factor authentication for logins, the establishment of encrypted data backups, as well as in-depth training in digital vigilance aimed at to staff and students

All these incidents mentioned in this article show that the question is no longer know if an attack will occur, but when it will take place. Lallie explains it very well: “ You must now take for granted that your systems will be targeted by a ransomware attack anyway […] Based on this idea, you can prepare yourself and keep disruptions to a minimum ”. These battles are invisible to the general public, because they take place in the shadows, but their repercussions on the continuity of research and innovation can be seen. 8217;prove to be very serious.

  • Research institutions are attacked more and more frequently by cybercriminal groups.
  • Museums or universities, the data held by these infrastructures are prime targets for hackers.
  • Often lacking solid cyber barriers, criminals take advantage of this and jeopardize the proper functioning of these organizations.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116