Over 400,000 Cam email addresses found on dark web

Is the university doing enough to protect our data?

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Cybersecurity firm RepKnight has recently found that over 400,000 Cambridge University email addresses are on the dark web, showing an increasing trend of cybercriminals targeting educational institutions.

This number is over double the amount at Oxford which begs the question, is our data and contact information being adequately protected by the university? This seems particularly important after the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal in which a Cambridge university professor has been accused of illegally sharing Facebook users' data.

The fact that these email addresses are on the dark web is concerning due to how cyber-criminals might be inclined to use them in large-scale phishing scams, disguising as a trusted source like a bank to extract personal information such as account details, or to hack into university computing resources.

Over five billion hacked credentials were found on the dark web by RepKnight's software BreachAlert. In a stark contrast to Oxford's hacked data, of which the majority of emails were related to colleges, around 97 per cent of Cambridge's hacked accounts came straight from faculties and university departments.

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Comparison between Oxford (left) and Cambridge (right) credit: Patrick Martin

Hackers searching after Bitcoins might be another reason for hacking into Cambridge's software – the cryptocurrency that hackers require high-performance computers to access.

Oxbridge aren't alone in having poorly protected data, from the 24 Russell group universities there are over five million hacked email accounts on the dark web. The links of universities to the government, the EU and international organisations also make them a keen target for hackers who wish to exploit the university and their contacts.

The University desperately needs to keep up with those seeking to exploit our data.