Iranian Hackers Target UK Universities

In response to news that Iranian hackers have targeted students in order to gain access to UK university assets John Wilson, Field CTO at Agari (experts in email security) commented below.

John Wilson, Field CTO at Agari:

“Sanctions against Iran have made it difficult for Iranian scientists and researchers to obtain legitimate access to cutting-edge research conducted at top universities. This leaves the Iranians with just a handful of options to acquire the desired information: (1) Hack into university computers to obtain the desired papers (2) Convince a student at each university to steal the information (3) Use phishing to obtain university library credentials. Hacking would require a different approach at each university given the disparate systems in use. Convincing students to violate 18 U.S. Code § 2381, whose penalties range from 5 years in prison to death, is a tall order. That leaves phishing, which is a common well-established technique for obtaining everything from Netflix credentials to bank login details and everything in between. It’s a low-cost, low-risk, low-tech attack that is highly effective.”

“Given the new school year is just starting, this is the ideal time to trick new students who may not be familiar with typical university email communications. Students should also be on the lookout for tuition diversion scams, which attempt to get them to wire their tuition money to a scammer’s bank account.”