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I agree with your columnist Marietje Schaake in her opinion that Western governments should better support universities against cyber attacks, but her focus is too narrow (“Knowledge and data need protection against cyber attacks”, Opinion, 25 August).
Yes, universities are at high risk for attacks by the state, as competing countries want to steal intellectual property. The challenge is exacerbated by the open, liberal culture of Western higher education.
Many academics have administrative privileges that a user in another organization can only dream of, and students are understandably rarely focused on cyber risk.
But we must not forget that financially motivated cyberattacks launched by criminal groups are just as socially disruptive and make up the bulk of cyberattacks today.
Of particular concern is machine-speed ransomware where the consequences of a successful attack are sudden and lasting — such as the temporary closure of two weeks in Scotland in 2020.
It is therefore important that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the US shifts its focus from a limited number of traditional critical national infrastructure sectors, as Schaake advocates, to a nationwide approach, as the UK National Cyber Security Center did.
We still can not afford to be complacent in the UK. The NCSC undoubtedly welcomes greater resources to be able to devote more time and attention to the threat facing all industry sectors, on behalf of the country.
Global Head of Threat Analysis
Darktrace, London WC2, UK