As home-based learning takes root, the increased attack surface has prompted educational institutions to turn to autonomous AI cybersecurity solutions.

In April 2020, a university in the UK was hit with an attempted ransomware attack. Hackers tried to gain access to staff and students’ computers using their own devices via an externally facing server—using a mechanism typically used by IT teams to remotely diagnose and resolve problems on employees’ computers.

Once they gained a foothold, the attackers attempted to move laterally and log into devices in order to encrypt files that were later revealed to be doctoral student research papers. However, the university’s AI-enhanced cybersecurity system had detected the intrusion, and having identified the abnormal behaviour associated with the ransomware attack, the system interrupted the malicious activity, without disrupting the university’s normal practices.

The education sector in many countries have experienced a full conversion to home-based, remote learning since April, and both teachers and students alike have had to deal with various teething challenges. At stake are personal data, as well as the painstaking work of researchers, plus the very systems that make remote learning possible. The latter remain vulnerable and open to risks as everyone continues adapting to the online environment.

In the case of the university mentioned above, as well as institutes like International Baccalaureate and United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) that operate in Singapore, the cybersecurity technology chosen to keep out cyber attackers was from Darktrace’s.

According to Richard Jenkins, Head of information Risk Management, Cyber Security and Governance, International Baccalaureate: “We are seeing more and more attacks aiming to undermine data integrity and in turn, organizational reputation, which can erode trust in the education sector itself. When it matters most, we can trust that (our cybersecurity solution) will fight back against fast moving attacks in seconds but crucially also spot subtle and stealthy attacks, allowing us to have full confidence in the programs we provide.”

According to Darktrace, as more education institutions rapidly transition to remote learning, they turning to using AI-enhanced autonomous cybersecurity solutions to safeguard systems, student data and sensitive research.