Survey: 60% of Educational Organizations Hit by Phishing Attacks Targeting Cloud Data, the Highest Result of All Verticals Analyzed

Netwrix, announced findings for the education sector from the global 2021 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report.

The majority of educational organizations experienced phishing attacks (60%) and account compromise (33%) in 2020. Phishing was the most common incident suffered by all verticals analyzed in the report, but the frequency of this type of attack in the educational sector was much higher than the average of 40%. Also, 27% of educational organizations experienced ransomware and 49% were unaware of the infection for days. Given the FBI’s recent warning about PYSA ransomware targeting schools in the US and UK, security pros in the education sector should be vigilant about this attack type.

The majority of respondents attribute their high level of vulnerability in the cloud to understaffed IT and security teams (53%), lack of expertise in cloud security (52%), and lack of budget (49%).

Other survey findings for the educational vertical include:

  • 48% of educational organizations store employee data in the cloud, and 30% store student data there.
  • 93% needed days or weeks to discover accidental data leakage, and 33% needed weeks to recover from these types of incidents.
  • Among institutions that had a data breach, 33% faced unforeseen costs to fix security gaps.
  • 33% of respondents reported that their cybersecurity spending and priorities remained the same despite changes brought by the pandemic. 27% stayed within their existing budgets but changed their priorities.

“Because educational institutions are understaffed and lack funding for sufficient training, the sector struggles to adequately respond to the ever-changing cyber threat landscape. With IT teams forced to be reactive instead of proactive towards security, the current wave of PYSA ransomware attacks can easily lead to breaches. To secure employee and student data within their unique financial constraints, these institutions need automated tools to locate sensitive data and speed detection of abnormal activity to ensure rapid response and mitigate security risks,” said Ilia Sotnikov, Vice President of Product Management at Netwrix.

To get the complete findings of the 2021 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report, please visit

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About Author

Leigh Porter's first love is to love people. Beginning her career as a neonatal RN was an obvious choice until life threw the curve ball to embark on a new IT endeavor. Pursuing this fresh career was a piece of cake with her resilient and steadfast character. Outside of the office, Leigh also diligently gives much of her time faithfully as a nationally awarded volunteer leader to a very dear to her heart organization.