Are ransomware attacks the new snow days?

Key points:

In early January, the Des Moines Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Iowa, fell victim to a ransomware attack that forced the district to take its network offline and students to miss more instructional time.

In addition to the disruption to operations, the district discovered that the attackers compromised the personal data of nearly 7,000 individuals, putting them at increased risk of identity theft and other crimes.…Read More

Strategies to help IT leaders combat imminent cyberattacks

It is undeniable–the education sector is prone to cyberattacks from malicious cybercriminals due to the amount of personal data available across user devices and organization networks. Just this past fall, the FBI, CISA and MS-ISAC issued an alert on Vice Society, whose actors have been known to disproportionately target the education sector with ransomware attacks.

While cybersecurity is certainly a top concern among this sector, tight budgets and resources mean that it is often not addressed until a major incident occurs. Given the imminent nature of today’s threat landscape, now more than ever, the urgency surrounding how best to protect and mitigate such attacks is at an all-time high.

With 40 percent of education devices found to have sensitive data stored, educational institutions must be adequately prepared to proactively prevent and respond to potential cyberattacks before a system breach occurs.…Read More

3 collaborative strategies to bolster cybersecurity

In the fall of 2021, the Center for Internet Security’s Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) reported an expected 86 percent increase in cybersecurity incidents targeting K-12 school systems over the course of one year. Public and private schools provide a broad surface area for exploitation and are often the target of malicious hackers looking for financial gain or to steal the sensitive personal data of teachers and students.

Countering these ransomware attacks with proper cyber hygiene practices can be especially difficult if there is little or no room in the IT budget, or if curriculum leaders lack involvement in the effort to enhance cybersecurity.

As a result, there are a few helpful benchmarks that can assist IT administrators in their ever-evolving quest to bolster cybersecurity measures and limit schools’ exposure to pervasive attacks. …Read More

Google and Mozilla announce new privacy features

Add two more internet browser makers to the list of companies planning to offer web users new ways to control how their personal data is collected online, reports the New York Times. On Monday, Mozilla and Google announced features that would allow users of the Firefox and Chrome browsers to opt out of being tracked online by third-party advertisers. The companies made their announcements just weeks after the Federal Trade Commission issued a report that supported a “do not track” mechanism that would let consumers choose whether companies could monitor their online behavior…

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Commerce Department tackles online privacy

The Commerce Department proposes creating a new office to oversee online privacy.

Aiming to set ground rules for companies that collect personal data online and use that information for marketing purposes, the U.S. Commerce Department is calling for the creation of an online privacy “bill of rights” for internet users.

The proposal, outlined in a Commerce Department report issued Dec. 16, is intended to address growing unease about the vast amounts of personal data that companies are scooping up on the internet, from web browsing habits to smart phone locations to Facebook preferences. The information often is mined to help companies better target their advertising—a practice that has children’s advocacy groups in particular calling for more online privacy safeguards.…Read More