In recent years, more and more industries have come to rely on cutting-edge technology, from communications and healthcare to education and civil engineering. As these industries surge forward, new technologies are under development to fulfill their growing needs. But privacy breaches, data losses, and theft of proprietary research impact technological projects across the globe. These threats are not new concerns for tech developers, but statistics show that the rate and sophistication of cyberattacks are on the rise, from phishing to ransomware. With the move to digitization, sensitive projects associated with cutting-edge technologies cannot afford to skimp on data protection.


The Importance of Data Privacy Protection in Tech Development

Data privacy protection is an integral part of secure and safe technology development. Only with secure data can educational institutions and research consortiums safely advance their technological breakthroughs. Educational institutions, in particular, are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, placing valuable data at risk. 

To further complicate matters, it’s difficult to control access among projects that must be handled by various faculty and students, creating dangerous vulnerabilities and potential data breaches. When projects cannot be protected by the limited efficacy of traditional firewalls, a more robust privacy solution is required.

This need is a driving force behind the partnership between the Texas State Connected Infrastructure for Education, Demonstration, and Applied Research (CIEDAR) Consortium and the data privacy pioneers at Sertainty. With the Sertainty standard of intelligent, self-protecting data, CIEDAR researchers can ensure that the privacy and welfare of highly sensitive data will remain confidential. Such data security is a vital necessity for institutions such as Texas State and other technological leaders, particularly as the education sector becomes a prime target for malicious cyberattacks.


Cyberattacks in Higher Education

Although many higher institutions have access to resources that can prevent data breaches, it is not uncommon for them to experience catastrophic data losses at the mercy of cybercriminals. In fact, educational institutions spent over $6 billion due to ransomware attacks in 2020.

Higher education institutions have become a coveted target for cyberattacks. Comparitech confirmed in July 2020 that the past 15 years saw 1,327 data breaches occur within the education sector alone, leading to the exposure of 24.5 million private records. These institutions are responsible for the records of students and staff and also for proprietary, industry-leading research. Hence, the potential ramifications of a data breach are all the more dire.

Moreover, the threat to systems in higher education have only worsened with the advent of COVID-19. Many institutions have transferred to a remote learning model, in which the number of cyberattacks have increased rapidly. A report from Checkpoint concluded that educational institutions experienced a steep 30% increase in cyberattacks in July and August of 2020, in comparison to a 6.5% increase across all industries.


What Makes Research Centers a Target for Cyberattacks?

Organizations in all industries are acknowledging the importance of cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world. However, research laboratories and higher education institutions  remain vulnerable to cyberattacks for the following reasons:

  • Personal Data: Colleges, universities, and other research centers have access to a high amount of sensitive medical records, financial data, and social security numbers. Hackers can use this information for scams or sell it on the black market, making such data into high-value targets.
  • Proprietary Research: Innovation has become synonymous with power and success. From corporate espionage to high-stakes data ransoms, cybercriminals are keen to extract proprietary information from budding research projects.
  • Outdated Systems: While some research facilities boast the newest tools and technologies, many schools rely on outdated systems that are much easier to compromise. Even if more modern suites are in place in the labs themselves, legacy technologies and systems that integrate with the labs create an unintended backdoor into otherwise secure systems.
  • Untrained User Networks: Vast research campuses often require equally expansive user networks which can be difficult to police. Without the ability for such internal data to protect itself, users may unintentionally invite malware into their networks through their personal devices or browsing activities.


How Can Research Institutions Prevent Data Loss?

Colleges, universities, and research centers have access to large amounts of private information, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. This is especially true for large consortiums, which demand data sharing among many users, partners, and departments.

For one thing, such institutions must offer security education training to all researchers, students, and staff. Studies have concluded that the mishandling of sensitive information accounted for 27.3% of higher education data breaches, illustrating how proper training is necessary to prevent data breaches caused by human error.

Moreover, that only accounts for less than one-third of potential vulnerabilities. To keep cybercriminals at bay, larger systemic issues must be addressed. Ultimately, self-protecting data is the most secure remedy for the rapid increase in data breaches, as illustrated by the partnership between Sertainty and CIEDAR. The primary goal of this partnership is to prioritize the cutting-edge security solutions that are necessary to protect data privacy and its consumption for the technological advancements developed within the CIEDAR laboratories.

In the past, confidential information was protected by storing it in a safe environment. However, data breaches are increasing across the globe, proving that these data protection methods are outdated and insufficient. That’s why Sertainty seeks to revolutionize the manner in which organizations safeguard their data by inserting access controls, risk mitigations, and defensive mechanisms directly within the data file.


Data Privacy with Sertainty

Digital sharing of sensitive research data is here to stay. Data privacy and protection have become more crucial than ever. Institutions that wish to remain at the forefront of their industry must make data protection a top priority or risk crippling breaches and data losses.

Here at Sertainty, we take data privacy and protection seriously, as we know that information is the most valuable asset of any business. With Sertainty, agencies can rest assured that their data privacy is specific, provable, and manageable by building privacy intelligence directly into their data.

The Sertainty data privacy platform empowers sensitive data to defend, govern, and track itself, so privacy isn’t lost when the traditional measures of application, network, and infrastructure security fails. To some degree, data breaches are inevitable. But with Sertainty, privacy loss doesn’t have to be.