Schools paying higher ransoms and seeing longer closures, according to survey of parents on K-12 ransomware at their children's schools.

Ransomware attacks show continued rise in K-12 schools

Schools paying higher ransoms and seeing longer closures, according to survey of parents

More parents report experiencing ransomware attacks on their children’s schools, according to new data from Kaspersky. This year, 14 percent of American parents experienced ransomware attacks on their children’s K-12 schools while their child was a student, an increase from 9 percent last year.

Among schools that paid a ransom to their attackers, parents reported an average ransom of $887,360. In 2021, the average was just $375,311. The Ransomware Attacks on K-12 Schools report revealed a number of other findings related to parents’ experiences with these incidents.

In October 2022, Kaspersky surveyed 2,000 parents of school-age children in the United States to find out about their experiences with ransomware attacks on schools. The results are compared to a previous report that posed the same questions to a similar group of parents in October 2021, as well as to an earlier report in June 2021 asking parents more generally about cyberattacks on schools.

According to the survey results, a growing number of schools are opting to pay a ransom to their attackers, in order to restore their systems. In October 2021, 71% of parents who had experienced an attack said their school paid a ransom. This time, that figure rose to 76%, although 14% said their school didn’t pay, which was about the same as last time, while a shrinking percentage didn’t know. Ten percent of parents reporting an attack said the district paid a ransom of more than $1 million; up from 3.7% in 2021.

The rate of attacks on schools may still be rising. Forty-four percent of parents who have experienced an attack said it happened either last summer (2022) or during this school year – which is only partway over – compared to 42% who said it happened last school year (2021-2022) or the previous summer (2021). Fifteen percent said it happened during the 2020-2021 school year or earlier.

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Laura Ascione

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