In 2022, at least 26 U.S. school districts have been infected with ransomware. Seven of those incidents have been since the beginning of August, according to Recorded Future, a cybersecurity company.
U.S. school districts have recently been prime targets for cyber crime, and hackers will likely continue their attacks during this school year, federal agencies warned on Tuesday. According to the alert — issued by the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and MS-ISAC — “attacks may increase as the 2022/2023 school year begins and criminal ransomware groups perceive opportunities for successful attacks.”
This most recent alert comes after one of the largest school districts in the U.S., the Los Angeles Unified School District, announced late Monday evening that it had been attacked by ransomware. Hackers infected the district’s computer networks with malicious software, which also locked up files. The group issued a demand for a ransom payment. The district announced that classes in Los Angeles weren’t canceled, but that the attack caused a “significant disruption” to the school district and its services.
Hackers often use ransomware to go after computer networks that are tied to essential services, especially if they’re not staffed with strong cybersecurity protections. This makes school districts a prime target. In some cases, it even leads to schools being closed with little notice.
While school districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and constrained resources are often the most vulnerable, cyber criminals are opportunistically targeting all school districts. This means that even school districts with robust cybersecurity programs are at risk.
“K-12 institutions may be seen as particularly lucrative targets due to the amount of sensitive student data accessible through school systems or their managed service providers,” the government alert said.
Because of this, schools need to understand the risk that hackers will gain access to children’s personal information, the government warned.
ThreatAdvice can help school systems defend against cyberattacks. Having sufficient cybersecurity protocols in place is vital for schools systems. Lack of cybersecurity can lead to exposure of confidential information. Contact the team at ThreatAdvice today and find out how to better protect your school from ransomware.