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Cybersecurity: the risks of sabotage

6 December 2021

It seems as though they’re always in the news at the moment: hacks or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on organisations or services. The Coronacheck app and Mediamarkt hacks, for instance. Or the Microsoft hack at the start of the year and the Stuxnet attack on an Iranian nuclear reactor in 2010. These are all examples of digital sabotage. But what exactly is digital sabotage? Is Leiden University at risk? And how can we prevent it?

What is cyber-sabotage?

Cyber-sabotage is when:

  • Countries or criminals attack computer systems in order to disrupt online services and, for instance, bring a business’s operations to a halt.
  • Cybercriminals and countries want to gain access to sensitive information that will give them a strategic advance on other countries. 

Cybercriminals regularly demand a ransom payment in return for access to the services they have hacked. A DDoS attack is a common form of cyber-sabotage. This involves sending a huge amount of data to a site or other digital service. These attacks are being used more often and regularly hit the headlines. In 2021 DDoS attacks temporarily took down the websites of the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) and the Tax and Customs Administration, for example. 

Is Leiden University at risk of cyber-sabotage?

Definitely! What is more, according to Microsoft, education has been by far the most affected industry globally for malware encounters in the last 30 days (30/11/2021):  

Most affected industries: reported enterprise malware encounters in the last 30 days
Most affected industries: reported enterprise malware encounters in the last 30 days

What risks does cyber-sabotage pose to Leiden University?

To begin with there is a real threat of reputational damage. The University was in the news last July after a suspected hack by an Iranian group of hackers, and Maastricht University was cast in a negative light after a major ransomware attack gave hackers access to its network for two months. A successful sabotage attempt also poses other risks. Imagine uSis suddenly going down during exams or research systems going offline, thus causing significant research delays.

Help prevent a cyberattack

The Information Management (IM) directorate is working hard to solve underlying problems and implement risk management systems, but your help as a member of staff is needed. You can help make it harder for potential hackers to penetrate our systems. Do you know how to spot a phishing mail? Do you have a strong password that you change regularly? You will find tips and tricks on these topics in the Awaretrain e-Learning modules. By following these short, fun modules, you can actively help make Leiden University more cyber-resilient. Don’t give hackers a chance!

You can increase your knowledge by following an e-learning module. Haven't followed a module before? Then the cybersecurity team will add you to the modules as soon as you click on the button below. If you have followed a module before, the available modules will be visible immediately after clicking the button below. Good luck!

To e-learning module
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