Preparations for the fall must include strategies to defend against the rising tide of ransomware and other security threats

School’s (locked) out: Defending against the new ransomware threat


Preparations for the fall must include strategies to defend against the rising tide of ransomware and other security threats

With schools planning for the 2021-2022 school year, a threat already impacting districts across the country is on many district leaders’ minds. Ransomware is proving to be a thorn in the side of the federal government, healthcare institutions, IT organizations, and school districts.  

Since December of last year, many of the nation’s top cybersecurity organizations, including the FBI, CISA, and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) have

received numerous reports of ransomware attacks against K-12 educational institutions.

MS-ISAC data shows a dramatic increase in ransomware incidents involving school districts at the beginning of the 2020 school year. In August and September, 57 percent of all MS-ISAC reported ransomware incidents involved K-12 schools–nearly doubling the percent reported from the first half of 2020.  

By now, most of us are familiar with the destructive and devastating impacts of ransomware. When bad actors attack educational institutions, they can prohibit system access or even render basic system functions inaccessible. With control over school networks, they steal or threaten to leak confidential student data. If these attacks are successful, they can grind both school systems and classroom learning to a halt.   

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