A recent report from the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center found that a record-breaking 408 cyber security incidents impacted educational institutions in the past year. The online learning environment that many schools are utilizing for COVID-19 related distance learning has allowed hackers to exploit security weaknesses, resulting in an 18% increase in cybercrimes over the past year.
Schools and other learning institutions have become a prime target for ransomware attacks. These attacks involve a hacker gaining access to the network and holding it inaccessible to users until a ransom payment is made. FBI officials warn that many hackers gain access to the network through phishing attempts and compromised Remote Desktop Protocol systems.
Once inside, the hackers install malware and deactivate antivirus protection before locking users out of the system completely. In past occurrences, the hackers have utilized these attacks as a chance to access and extract private information, like payroll and tax information. They then use the stolen data to exploit victims and as leverage for the ransom.
The K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center cites the increase in cyber incidents to the quick move to online learning and the deficiency of security measures prior to the pandemic. The report states that moving forward, schools and other educational institutions need to place increased emphasis on security and preparedness.
The FBI has recommended that organizations take the following actions to prevent becoming the next victim and mitigate risk in the chance of an attack:
Vector Solutions offers a suite of IT-related training for K-12 Staff. These courses include a range of topics to help educate your staff on cybersecurity:
For students, we offer Digital Citizenship courses for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12.