Cyberthreat of test factories

An emerging cybersecurity threat to the education sector comes from copywriting factories, says Janet, who owns and operates the UK research and education computer network, Janet. Copywriting factories, also known as contract cheating sites, seek to fool students and make money by hacking university websites and placing content that looks legitimate and sound for their own purposes. aligns with university services.

Typically, attackers write on pages intended for students, with hyperlinks to their own websites, or hijack links to legitimate services with redirects to contract cheat sites. North American and Australian universities have seen such things before; similar tactics could well be used in the UK, warns the UK digital higher education body, Jisc, along with the Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency, QAA. They issued opinions to HEIs (higher education institutions).

Unlike ransomware, which targets massive disruption as a lever for extortion, trial-mill attackers try to go undetected and operate without the knowledge of the universities involved, but most of the prevention advice is the same. .

Jisc Security Director Henry Hughes said: “Cyber ​​attacks are a growing problem for colleges and universities and, as is probably the case with illegal activities at newsrooms, are often motivated by the organized crime. There are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk, including using cybersecurity services that can block known malicious content, help mitigate phishing attempts and other forms of education and research attacks in the UK. United.

“Jisc works with universities, colleges, industry bodies and regulators to help coordinate a policy-based approach to block a wide range of cybersecurity threats. “

And QAA Policy and Communications Officer Gareth Crossman said: “Test factories pose a threat to the world-class reputation of UK higher education. These companies are unscrupulous and their exploitation of students jeopardizes their academic and future careers, while exposing them to blackmail and cybercrime. Their only motivation is money, so we need action from governments and online platforms to make it as difficult as possible to operate. This is why the QAA is also campaigning for legislation criminalizing editorial factories.

“We urge universities to follow the technical advice provided by Jisc and educate staff and students about the new tactics employed by the test factories. Users should know what to look out for and how to report any suspicions. “

Jisc is hosting a security conference November 9-11. Visit Speakers will include Lindy Cameron, CEO of the UK’s official National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC).

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