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Insufficient cybersecurity staffing is hurting higher ed’s ability to protect itself, report shows

Insufficient cybersecurity staffing is hurting higher ed’s ability to protect itself, report shows

University Business

Alcino Donadel
November 27, 2023
Higher education and related sectors have increasingly become vulnerable sources for cybercriminals to exploit. One crime syndicate exploited over 900 institutions this year, compromising individuals’ Social Security numbers, birthdates and school records. And as of 2018, ransomware attacks have cost the education sector more than $50 billion.
Research from EDUCAUSE points to a critical culprit hurting higher education’s ability to nourish its cybersecurity defenses and protect its privacy: adequate staffing.
The popular nonprofit interviewed 350 higher education professionals responsible for cybersecurity and privacy across positions in network infrastructure, system and data management and administration.
Two-thirds of EDUCAUSE’s respondents said that staffing issues have had “some” or “a lot” of negative impact on cybersecurity services offered at their institution. Moreover, 60% said there were “some” or “a lot” of adverse effects on privacy services provided.
The primary staffing issue appears to be in the hiring process. Less than half of respondents said their institution can hire successfully (46%) and create new positions (38%).
The main culprit for institutions’ limited staffing is their limited budgets and noncompetitive compensation and benefits. Institutions’ limited budgets were often the consequence of lower levels of enrollment and tuition money. To improve the likelihood of colleges and universities nabbing qualified professionals, 85% of respondents said they should offer more competitive salaries, and 68% said to increase their departmental budgets.
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