An increase in cyberattacks against colleges and universities, which comes as institutions rely heavily on digital infrastructure to deliver online learning amid the pandemic, is a negative factor weighing on higher education’s credit profile, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The ratings agency published commentary on risks associated with cyberattacks this week, about two weeks after the FBI issued a warning about rising numbers of cyberattacks against colleges and universities. Attackers can steal sensitive information, block access to essential systems and demand payment before they return access. They have also been known to threaten to publish stolen sensitive information if institutions do not meet their demands.
The attacks pose social risks related to customer relations for colleges and universities when they affect service delivery, delay key events like registration or disrupt virtual classes. They can also pose a financial risk.