May 22, 2024

Ransomware attackers head back to school

3 min read


Just when we assumed the unpleasant development of ransomware assaults on public educational facilities could possibly be waning, news arrived of a significant incident. Around Labor Day weekend, the country’s most significant college district, Los Angeles Unified, seasoned a ransomware attack. The district serves 600,000 college students and described “significant disruptions affecting obtain to electronic mail, laptop or computer devices, and apps.”

There was great information, nevertheless. The district appeared to catch the attack early, shut its techniques down and prevented far more really serious difficulties. A good deal of the time these assaults consequence in the loss of social stability numbers and all kinds of other information, amounting to a serious violation of children’s privacy. For these kinds of a massive district, this could have been catastrophic. LAUSD’s remarkable reaction probable resulted from some sensible preparation.

LAUSD was sadly not the only university to be victimized this yr, and in other cases, some of the consequences look to have been a lot more severe. Staff at Cedar Rapids, Iowa faculties observed their personalized info stolen this summer season, including Social Protection quantities, driver’s license quantities, lender account numbers, and even professional medical heritage information.

The district is featuring a no cost year’s really worth of crediting checking companies to affected personnel. A different incident in Iowa concerned an extortion risk from attackers contacting them selves Vice Culture, expressing they would upload stolen data files if a ransom wasn’t paid out – a prevalent tactic of cyber criminals. It continues to be mysterious no matter whether the two incidents might be similar.

Somewhere else, a university district in Texas was pressured to maintain lessons without obtain to the internet, next a ransomware assault. This bundled closing the campus to people mainly because the screening process couldn’t be accessed.

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Supply hyperlink Today, cybersecurity researchers have noticed that cyber criminals behind notorious ransomware attacks on public and private companies are now turning to school districts and higher education institutions as easy targets.

These attackers have discovered that schools often lack effective security measures and use outdated technology, making them prime targets for ransomware attacks. Such attacks occur when hackers access an organization’s computer network and lock it, demanding a ransom payment in order to unlock the system and grant access back to the organization.

In the past year, there have been several high-profile ransomware attacks on school districts. For example, the Los Angeles County Office of Education announced in December 2020 that it had experienced a ransomware attack, with the hackers claiming to have accessed sensitive student and employee information. The attackers demanded a $30 million ransom payment in order to decrypt the system.

In May 2021, ransomware attackers gained access to the University of California, San Francisco’s systems and encrypted a number of servers, including those containing patient data. The university paid a $1.14 million ransom to recover their systems, although it is unclear how much of the data was encrypted.

These incidents demonstrate the real threat posed by ransomware attacks to school districts and universities. School districts and other educational institutions should enhance their cybersecurity measures to protect their IT systems from these threats. Basic security measures such as two-factor authentication, strong passwords, and network segmentation can go a long way towards preventing these attacks.

In addition, educational institutions should have clear procedures in place for dealing with ransomware attacks. This includes having the technical resources to identify the attack early and contain it, setting protocols for responding to the attack and notifying stakeholders, and having measures for recovering systems in the case of a successful attack.

Given the increasing number of ransomware attacks on educational institutions, it is essential that school districts and universities take the necessary steps to protect their systems and data. If not, they risk becoming an easy target for cyber criminals.