August 2nd 2023


In recent years, schools, colleges and universities experienced a drastic shift to online learning as the pandemic restricted in-person teaching. Today, educators continue to rely on technology and use its many benefits. But as they welcome newer technology, they become more vulnerable to cyber crime. 

In January 2023, hackers leaked confidential information from 14 UK schools in response to a ransomware attack. This included children’s SEN information, pupil passport scans, staff pay and contract details. Cyber criminals exploit poor cyber security and leave no victim behind. Staying protected with a Cyber Essentials certification ensures sectors like education remain safe online. 

Why Should Education Providers Have Good Cyber Security?

The rapid digitalisation of the education sector has made them a feeding ground for cyber crime. With little preparation, the education/research sector became the number one most attacked industry in the world. In 2022, cyber crime increased by 43% compared to 2021, with a weekly average of 2,314 attacks per organisation. 

Hackers can hold sensitive data captive, demanding educators pay an expensive ransom in exchange. If this is not paid, institutions face severe ramifications. From data breaches to financial loss, education providers put their reputation, student and staff safety at risk. 

Organisations must implement stronger cyber security to protect themselves from cyber crime. How can they do this? By becoming Cyber Essentials certified. 

What Are the Benefits of Cyber Essentials?

Whether an institution wants to get certified in Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus, you can access many long-term benefits. Getting certified will protect your organisation from common cyber attacks such as ransomware, malware, phishing and data breaches. 

A Cyber Essentials certificate demonstrates your dedication to data and security protection. This improves your academic reputation with prospective students and staff. It also allows you to qualify for different forms of funding from bodies such as the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Cyber Essentials is an excellent investment towards a positive culture of cyber safety for both students and staff. 

Is Cyber Essentials Mandatory for Academic Institutions?

In some instances, Cyber Essentials is mandatory for educators looking to apply for funding. For schools and colleges, Cyber Essentials is a prerequisite for ESFA Education and Skills contracts for the 2023-2024 funding year. ESFA is accountable for £65 billion of funding for the education and training sector, providing financial support to providers when necessary. 

Although it is not a requirement for universities, it is still worthwhile becoming Cyber Essentials certified. Article 32 of GDPR states that all organisations should have “appropriate technical and organisational measures” in place when protecting personal data. The Cyber Essentials scheme ensures strict controls are implemented for handling and protecting such information. Raise cyber security awareness, meet compliance and be protected from cyber threats with Cyber Essentials. 

Get Certified in Cyber Essentials with Lily Comms

As a Cyber Advisor, we will support you on becoming Cyber Essentials certified. From cyber security guidance to in-person audits, Lily is here to help you. Contact the Lily team or call us on 0343 507 1111. 

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