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Dutch universities targeted by Iranian hackers

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Three Dutch universities and one university of applied sciences have come under attack from Iranian hackers. The cyberattack was designed to gain access to academic knowledge, including books and teaching materials. Student login details were also targeted.

Read in Dutch

Dutch public broadcaster NOS, citing consultancy firm PwC as its source, reports (links in Dutch, ed.) that the hackers also attacked universities across other European countries, Australia and the United States. It is not known how successful their infiltration was.

PwC has since confirmed the report. “Unfortunately, we cannot reveal the names of the educational institutions which have been targeted, as the investigation is still ongoing”, a spokesperson said. “Until this work has been completed, the investigative report will not be made public.”

Sanctions
Due to the international sanctions imposed on Iran, the country’s students are being excluded from international academic collaboration. Cybercriminals have been known to resell stolen books and teaching materials to Iranian websites for modest sums of money.

Two years ago, the US authorities prosecuted nine Iranians for hacking into the systems of over three hundred universities worldwide, including Dutch universities. PwC suspects that the same group is behind this latest cyber offensive.

Vulnerable
SURF, a Dutch ICT cooperative, recently warned that Dutch education and research is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cybercriminals. SURF’s experts issued an urgent warning to academic institutions to do everything in their power to safeguard against the threat of cyberattack.

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