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‘Universities should brace for Russian cyberattack’

Jisc urges senior leaders to take responsibility as invasion of Ukraine raises threat level

University IT service provider Jisc has told the UK research world to be on guard for Russian cyberattacks in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Institutions should ensure that all possible defensive cybersecurity measures are in place, amid a heightened threat of attacks from Russia.

Jisc’s director of security, Henry Hughes, said education and research are “likely targets” for cyberattacks originating in Russia, with some reports already indicating that the chances of Russian state-sponsored action have “increased significantly”.

Universities and other providers should ensure that they have implemented the security measures described in the National Cyber Security Centre’s advice, he urged.

“Ensuring that fundamental protections are in place and are functioning correctly is the most important priority. This applies in normal circumstances but is now critical,” Hughes added.

“Jisc will, as always, support members with technical advice where required, but it’s up to individual organisations to determine and fix their security weaknesses.”

Universities should ensure critical assets are patched and up to date, and that appropriate compensating controls are in place where they are not, Jisc said. Institutions should also review firewall rules and remove or disable any redundant rules that could allow a threat-actor access.