Schools face ransomware attacks, like the recent Kaseya attack, with poorer cyber defenses than many private companies and with more vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. That’s especially true for schools that will still be operating at least partly remotely in the fall because every remote student’s laptop is an entry point for hackers to infect an entire school’s computer network.
According to the Center for Internet Security (CIS), there was a 19 percent increase in ransomware and other cyberattacks targeting K-12 schools between 2019 and 2020, and they’re projecting a 86 percent increase in 2021.
The cost of these attacks has already been severe.
A ransomware attack shut down Baltimore County schools for several days in November 2020, and other prominent attacks have hit schools in Miami, Toledo and Huntsville, Alabama.
There’s no reliable data for how often schools pay ransom demands, though there are some high-profile cases in which hackers punished schools for refusing to pay. For example, hackers posted 26,000 files from the Broward County, Florida, school district online after it refused to pay a ransom.
There’s also a bonus for hackers that target schools — stealing the personal information of students and teachers.
Student’s personal information is especially valuable for identity thieves and scammers because they’re less likely to notice that someone is using their identity to commit fraud if they don’t yet have bank accounts or credit cards that might be alerted.
Cybersecurity is far from easy, especially for school districts. Schools have so many connected devices with their own risks that it becomes nearly impossible to keep track of the threats they might pose.
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Source: The Washington Post