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.”
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.
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.