Across industries, ransomware and cyberattacks have proliferated in the past year, largely due to the rapid shift to remote work and school. The education sector has been hit particularly hard–the 2020 calendar year saw a record-setting 408 publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents in the K-12 sector, according to The State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2020 Year in Review.
The report, put out by the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, found that the attacks affected 377 school districts in 40 states and cost millions of dollars to resolve.
The unfortunate reality is that the problem isn’t going to go away–the threat landscape will continue to expand. And compounding this is the fact that education IT departments are too often underfunded. This is where automation can play a key role.
The current threat landscape
We’ve all seen the headlines–everything from a high school student in Miami who forced the cancellation of classes to school districts around the country that have been hit by ransomware. And this has all come as schools have grappled with remote and hybrid learning during a global pandemic.
In March 2021, the FBI issued a warning about an increase in PYSA ransomware targeting education institutions in 12 U.S. states and the United Kingdom. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The K-12 Cyber Resource Center found that the attacks against schools in 2020 marked an 18 percent increase from the prior year, and given what we’ve seen in the past year, it’s seeming likely that 2021 will top that.
Prevention demand exceeds human capacity
Organizations today know that the cost associated with the fallout of a successful attack is far greater than the cost and effort associated with attack prevention. Therefore, in education cybersecurity and beyond, investing in comprehensive cybersecurity strategies not only protects sensitive data and infrastructure but can also help reduce costs down the line.
However, at the same time, school districts face substantial budget constraints, making it difficult to address the massive and growing problem of cybersecurity risk. And speaking of that growing problem, the fact is that the threat landscape has proliferated and continues to proliferate so greatly that humans alone cannot tackle it all.
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