If you want to know what the big next trend is going to be and what smart people are working on, hacking British universities is certainly one way to find out.

When dealing with universities from a cybersecurity standpoint, we are often asked to focus on their students as the risk or source of attack. This is often down to university networks being very open, to allow students to do their research and go about their education. (If my teenage son is reading this, the high bandwidth access is for studying, not for the latest cloud based multi-player game.)

Universities often want us to focus on internal activity, like clever students trying to get copies of their exam papers ahead of time or attempting to manipulate their results. Another area we are asked to look at, is where the university network is being used as the source of outbound illegal, hacking or terrorism-related activity. 

British universities (like every other organisation that has intellectual property or personally identifiable information) have to shift their approach. The old paradigm of protecting our organisations with gates, guards and guns is leaving our organisations vulnerable at the core. 

Accepting the fact ill-intentioned people, are either in or will get into your network is the first step to understanding that protection won't save you. Moving your focus to more rapidly detecting and mitigating threats before they have a major impact is a much wiser investment in today's world.

Universities need to pay more attention to the value and sensitivity of the data they have, and put in place stronger access controls and more effectively behavioural monitor.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies originated from the universities and it looks like it's come full circle. Now it's time to 'do as you said and not do as you do' and put those technologies into full use across the campus.