Cyber Threats Increasingly Targeting UK Schools

By Bal Siyan, January 9, 2024

Primary and Secondary Schools across the UK are facing a growing threat from Cybercriminals, according to new research. The study found that primary and secondary schools are more likely to experience cyber security incidents than the average UK business.

The impact on schools is concerning. Around one in ten primary schools suffered financial losses, data theft or compromised accounts due to cyber-attacks in the past year. For secondary schools, this figure rose to around one in three.

While cyber security is rising up the agenda for school leaders, the research suggests there is still work to be done. Many primary and secondary schools still seem unaware of government cyber security guidance and initiatives like the National Cyber Security Centre’s 10 Steps program.

The 2023 Cyber Security Breaches Survey estimated for the prevalence of cybercrime across the education sector. The results indicate cybercrime is up to three times more common in secondary schools than in primary schools. As many as a third of secondary schools suffered a cybercrime over the past year.

In light of this research, schools urgently need to reprioritise cyber security and take proactive measures to protect themselves. Undertaking current state security assessment, defining a cyber strategy and increasing senior leadership teams’ engagement would be positive first steps for many schools.

With the threat increasing, there is no time to lose in tackling this issue.

Percentage of organisations that have identified breaches or attacks in the last 12 months

Primary schools


Secondary schools


Further education colleges


Higher education institutions




The government also has a role to play in supporting schools. More awareness campaigns targeted at school leaders could help address the knowledge gap around cyber security best practices. And additional funding may be needed to help resource-strapped schools put in place critical security controls and infrastructure.

By taking concerted action now, we can help secure our schools against the growing menace of cybercrime.

Our children’s education and safety depend on it.

Disclaimer. This article has been prepared for information purposes only. Formal professional advice is strongly recommended before making decisions on the topics discussed in this release. No responsibility for any loss to any person acting, or not acting, as a result of this release can be accepted by us, or any person affiliated with us.

See the Gov website for more information on the Cyber security breaches survey 2023: education institutions annex.

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