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Ransomware: Cybersecurity For Okay-12 Colleges

For Educators: Network Security To Defeat Ransomware Today

Cyber ​​attacks against schools reached record levels in the past year. The U.S. Cyber ​​Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported that they are becoming increasingly aggressive. K-12 schools were the most common targets. About 57% [1] of the ransomware incidents in July and August last year affected K-12 schools. Since the beginning of 2021, more than 40 ransomware attacks have devastated operations in public school districts.

“In recent education incidents, ransomware has resulted in the loss of coursework, school finances, and COVID-19 test data,” said a recent warning from the National Cyber ​​Security Center.

Ten million students, teachers, and administrative staff have experienced the traumatic effects of ransomware. Student files can be sold for up to $ 350 [2] on the dark web and can potentially lead to fraud, identity theft, and other undesirable outcomes.

Real-world hacking of schools

Schools experienced an 18% decline, according to the Cybersecurity Resource Center [2] Ransomware attacks increase in 2020 compared to 2019. A school district in Florida recently suffered a ransomware attack in which hackers threatened to divulge teachers, staff and students’ personal information unless it hit $ 40 million raised [1] Ransom was paid. Any K-12 school could run into a similar scenario.

School system security

About 1/3 of K-12 [2] Support professionals report that their districts have three or fewer IT specialists. Schools typically lack the human and budgetary resources to provide adequate security. This in turn makes them targets for hackers.

Many have observed that large corporations spend millions on cybersecurity. Schools have a tight budget. Educators ask, “How can schools expect to keep up?”

This is how schools can protect systems with cyber security

Protecting school systems is difficult, but there are strategies and tactics that can make a big difference.

  • School district staff should ensure that systems are backed up in the cloud. While this requires a limited budget, it is generally not perceived as an expensive process. According to NCSC [3], “Offline backups are the most effective way to recover from a ransomware attack.”
  • Schools can also proactively train teachers to scan email for cyber threats. Professional training can be hugely helpful in blocking attacks. Are you looking for ways to brush up on professional cybersecurity training? Check out this article.
  • Antivirus software can help stop security breaches before they start. Anti-malware and anti-phishing technologies can be particularly useful. Make sure your configuration does not allow reuse of credentials and recognizes compromised passwords.

Other helpful tactics:

  • Systems should be patched in a timely manner. Unpatched systems are uniquely vulnerable to attack.
  • By implementing network segmentation, attacks from the side can be prevented.
  • Administrators should monitor the privacy settings in programs.
  • Audit logs can enable IT staff to monitor who is on the system, when and why.
  • Setting up Least Privileged Access and Zero Trusts can also pay off.
  • School districts should consider hiring more cybersecurity staff. The cost could be far less than cleaning up a cyberattack or paying a ransom.
  • Check the systems before weekends and public holidays, as attacks are particularly likely at these intervals.

The problem with third party apps

Cyber ​​criminals are aware that some school districts have adequate or exemplary cybersecurity in place. In these cases, hackers can try to bypass systems by breaking a third-party ecosystem. You can then use this ecosystem as a vehicle to launch an attack on your system. In addition to creating digital barriers to your own district’s resources, make sure your institution oversees the security of third-party apps as well.

If your school experiences a ransomware attack, should you pay the dues?

Up to 45% of US businesses pay cyber criminals to restore files. However only 26% [4] those who handed over the money had their files unlocked. The best way to give ransomware the run-around is to invest in better security measures and develop a stronger cybersecurity position.

Immediate steps to ransomware

If you are hit by a ransomware attack, you should turn off the device that is experiencing the problem and disconnect it from the network. An infected computer can spread the computer virus to other devices connected to the network. Immediately afterwards, call an IT professional who may need to refer the case to others in your organization, lawyers, or the FBI. If you want to learn more about the arguments that help prioritize cybersecurity in schools, read this article [5] for more informations.


[1] Now ransomware is flooding public school systems

[2] 6 top ways schools can avoid ransomware attacks

[3] Ransomware Warning: Attacks on schools and universities have increased again

[4] Breaking News: The Reality of Ransom Payments


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