Sunday, 27th September 2020

Data sharing in the cloud puts education sector at risk of data breaches

Netwrix survey reveals that employees at 54% of educational organisations use cloud applications to share sensitive data outside of IT control and knowledge.

Netwrix has published additional findings from its 2020 Data Risk & Security Report. The report reveals that many educational organisations are at risk of data security incidents during the current period of working from home and virtual learning.


According to the survey, even before the lockdown, the majority of educational organisations had weak data security controls. In particular, 54% of IT professionals in the educational sector confessed that employees put data at risk by sharing it via cloud apps outside of IT knowledge. This is the highest percentage among all verticals surveyed. The move to distance learning increases this risk even more.

Other notable findings of the report include:

  • 82% of educational organisations don’t track data sharing at all or do it manually, and 50% of them suffered a data breach due to unauthorised data sharing last year
  • 63% of educational organisations don’t review permissions regularly, and 24% of system administrators admitted to granting direct access rights upon user request
  • 28% of respondents discovered data outside of secure locations, which is the highest number of all industries surveyed. This data was left exposed for days (40%) or months (33%)
  • Only 8% of respondents have developed cybersecurity and risk KPIs to evaluate their security posture and track success

“Distance learning creates many challenges for educational organisations, and cybersecurity is often taking a back seat to operational resilience. The Netwrix survey shows that security processes were not ideal before the pandemic, leaving these institutions even more vulnerable to the growing number of cyber threats today. To ensure these institutions can secure their student and employee data, IT professionals need to get back to basics. First, they need to understand what sensitive data they have, and classify it by its level of sensitivity and value to the organisation. Second, they need to ensure that the data is stored securely, prioritising the most important data. And last, they need to adopt healthy security practices for granting permissions in order to avoid data overexposure,” said Steve Dickson, CEO at Netwrix.

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