British universities are being hit by hundreds of successful cyber-attacks every year, reports the Times. More than 1,152 intrusions into UK university networks had been recorded in 2016-17, it said.
And thieves were interested in defence technologies as well as research into novel fuels and better batteries. The newspaper used data gleaned from Freedom of Information requests to gauge the extent of cyber-attacks on the educational institutions.
The requests revealed that Oxford, Warwick and University College London had all suffered breaches that sought to steal research data and documents.
The newspaper said thieves were either stealing on behalf of foreign powers or looking to get at valuable data they could sell to the highest bidder.
The number of recorded attacks had doubled in two years, it added.
“Universities drive forward a lot of the research and development in the UK. Intellectual property takes years of knowhow and costs a lot,” Carsten Maple, director of cyber-security at the University of Warwick, told the paper.
“If someone can get that very quickly, that’s good for them.”