K-12 school districts are an attractive target for financially motivated cyber threat actors. Every year a staggering number of schools get hit with all different kinds of cyberattacks. It has become such an increasing problem that never seems to get enough attention until the attack has already happened. With all the data that schools have within their networks – especially sensitive student information – you would think that cybersecurity would be taken a little more serious or even be a top priority for some.
So why don’t schools take the necessary approach to make sure all their students and employees are safe from cyberattacks? Could it be because it’s just too expensive and doesn’t fit into their budget or could it be that they don’t care enough until it has happened? Well unless you’re an expert, many would say that cybersecurity can almost sound like a foreign language at times. Technology has become one of the main resources that students use to learn in schools and now that cybercriminals keep getting more and more crafty it’s time to start taking cybersecurity more serious in schools before it’s too late.
How Schools are Being Attacked
When cybercriminals attack schools they use all different kinds of crafty techniques to try and get any information possible. Here are four of the most common cyberattacks that take place in schools:
- Phishing- is an attempt to acquire data or other resources through a fraudulent solicitation in email or on a website.
- Ransomware- where a hacker gains access to your organization to encrypt your files then demanding a ransom to decrypt them.
- Denial-service-attacks- is preventing or impairing authorized use of networks, systems or applications by multiple machines operating together to overwhelm a target.
- Video conferencing disruptions- means an attack that disrupts teleconferences and online classrooms, often with hate images and threatening language.
Impacts range from restricted access to the network, delayed exams, canceled school days, to unauthorized access to personal information regarding students and staff. The attacks start at the core of the school’s financial security ability to provide a safe, secure, and protected place for staff and students, and the ability to carry out the fundamental educational mission.
Cyberattacks that have Happened in Recent Years
Believe it or not cyberattacks have almost become a normal thing that school districts have to face year after year. It has gotten to the point where schools usually have to shut down because of how bad the attacks have gotten. A couple of years ago public schools all throughout Albuquerque were forced to cancel classes due to a cyberattack that locked staff out of their information database, which is used for recording students’ attendance, determining who is permitted to pick up that student and the students emergency contacts. Also, schools in Buffalo, New York, Broward County, Florida, Hartford, Connecticut and Clark County, Nevada also had to cancel classes for multiple days due to a ransomware attack that took place. Ransomware has been one of the biggest dangers to schools as in the past two years ransomware attacks have hit fifty-eight different school districts including 830 individual schools.
Making Security in Schools a Top Priority
With hackers working around the clock to get their hands on any data possible, it’s important for schools to start implementing a cyber plan so they can be ready just in case a cyberattack takes place. Schools usually have underfunded and unsupported equipment which makes the cybercriminals job a lot easier. One of the most important actions any school can take is to make sure that all the sensitive data that they have stored in their networks is safe and secure. Securing sensitive data not only keeps the school safe but also keeps the teachers and students safe as well. Schools also need to make sure that any technology and devices that are used in the school get updated often. Also, schools need to make sure their endpoint security controls are working at all times to minimize the risk of a cyber-attack.
Here are Five steps you can implement immediately to make sure your school stays safe from cyber-attacks:
- Implement a cybersecurity awareness training to educate staff and students on the importance of cyberattacks that take place and how it can not only effective the school but affect them as well.
- Make sure to repair operating systems, software, and any other hardware as soon as the updates come out.
- Implement application and remote access with multifactor authentication (MFA) to only allow systems to execute programs known and permitted by the established security policy.
- Regularly update anti-virus and anti-malware with the latest signatures and preform regular scans.
- Back up data regularly to a non-connected environment and verify the integrity of those backups.
What can All Lines do to Help
With more and more schools getting attacked each year it is essential to take the necessary steps to make sure your school, students and staff are safe. All Lines Technology can take any worries you may have about cyberattacks and make them disappear! We offer end-to-end cybersecurity services to help make sure your school stays safe. Cybersecurity should be the number one priority for every school because of all the data that is stored in their network. The great thing about All Lines is that we like to keep your budget in mind but also give you top tier cybersecurity protection! We have been a trusted provider of services for over 20 years. Let us help you stay safe from cyberattacks for years to come!
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