Educational Services (NAICS 61)

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1,780 incidents, 1,537 with confirmed data disclosure

Top patterns


System Intrusion, Social Engineering and Miscellaneous Errors represent 90% of breaches

Threat actors


External (68%), Internal (32%) (breaches)

Actor motives


Financial (98%), Espionage (2%) (breaches)

Data compromised


Personal (83%), Internal (20%), Other (18%), Credentials (9%) (breaches)

What is the same?


The same three patterns dominate this vertical as last year. External actors stealing Personal data accounts for the majority of breaches.


Errors of various types committed by internal actors and Extortion from external threat actors continue to constitute the curriculum of this industry.

Learn from your mistakes.

The Educational Services industry has a great deal to be proud of. It played a significant role in what was ultimately the creation of the internet, it created the textbook industry that we all know and love, and, of course, arguably its crowning achievement: recess. In spite of all this success, however, it is not without problems. But before we get into the Advanced Placement-level breach findings, let’s cover the more remedial Error section. Figure 59 shows that the Miscellaneous Errors pattern has been trending upward for the last two years in the Educational Services vertical. Not unlike the other industries that we examine, Misdelivery is front and center, accounting for 56% of errors. Loss (19%) and Classification error (10%) round off the top three error varieties.

I feel so exploited.

Now that we have Errors out of the way, let’s talk about the real area of concern for this vertical. The action types of malware (Backdoor – 57%), hacking (Exploit vuln – 56%) and social (Extortion – 50%) were present in almost the exact same percentages. This, of course, indicates that MOVEit—the well-known file transfer software that, when exploited, caused so much trouble for so many over the last year—was definitely enrolled in the Educational Services industry. As readers may recall, Ransomware was prevalent in this industry in last year’s report and the end game of Ransomware is Extortion. The campaign that leveraged the MOVEit exploit was simply another, more refined,95 method of achieving the same goal. Since the MOVEit exploit was present to such a high degree, Ransomware decreased proportionately as Backdoor increased. However, the end result for Educational Services was the same: It helped criminals pay off their student loans rather rapidly.

Data Breach Investigation Report figure 59

95 Certainly less computationally intensive for forgoing the encryption. Who knew threat actors also cared about the environment?


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