Rising ransomware attacks on education demand defense readiness

Key points:

Ransomware attacks continue to wreak havoc on the education sector, hitting 80 percent of lower education providers and 79 percent of higher education providers this year. That’s a significant increase from 56 percent and 64 percent in 2022, respectively.

As “target rich, cyber poor” institutions, schools store massive amounts of sensitive data, from intellectual property to the personal information of students and faculty. Outdated software, limited IT resources and other security weaknesses further heighten their risk exposure. In a ransomware attack, adversaries exploit these vulnerabilities to infiltrate the victim’s network and encrypt their data, effectively holding it hostage. After encryption, bad actors demand ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key required to retrieve their files.…Read More

How to keep hackers off your school attendance list with object storage

Key points:

As the 2023-2024 school year commences, focus on education is accompanied by a pressing concern for better cybersecurity. Cybercriminals are poised to exploit educational institutions, seeking access to personal, financial, and health records. Recent incidents, such as New Haven School System’s $6 million breach and Prince George County schools attack, highlight potential risks facing schools today. There is a critical need for robust cybersecurity measures for protection against attacks, inclusive of a comprehensive plan to keep hackers at bay.

What’s sending hackers to schools for the ultimate ransomware field day? Educational institutions hold a wealth of valuable information but lack IT budgets and updated cybersecurity tools, making them prime targets. In a perfect world, ransomware could always be stopped at the “front door” before it enters a school’s network premises, but this is hardly the case. Detection and prevention measures such as monitoring network traffic, establishing strict permission guidelines, and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) to confirm identities are continuously evolving, but attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often finding ways to bypass these defense measures.…Read More

New attendance push prized by students, educators

School day wake-up calls recorded by celebrities. Weekend makeup classes. Contests with laptop computers, private concerts and cars as prizes. Educators across the nation are using creative strategies as another school year gets under way to convince students and parents that regular attendance matters — and not just for grades and achievement, the Associated Press reports. New research suggests missing as little as two weeks of school can put young children behind their peers, burden overworked teachers, cost districts state dollars and undermine mandates to raise standardized test scores. So many public school districts have launched campaigns to reduce all absences, not just those serious enough to warrant a home visit from a truant officer.

“Students who are getting a ‘B’ and are OK with a ‘B,’ they think it’s in their rights to skip school now and then,” said Berkeley High School Attendance Dean Daniel Roose, who offered a movie night to the grade-level boasting the best attendance last semester. “I’ve tried to challenge those kids and their families to change the mindset that you aren’t impacting anyone but yourself when you skip.”

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A Harlem middle school bets on technology

Attendance, the bane of many schools that serve a community of mostly poor minority kids, is not a problem at Global Technology Preparatory, a new middle school in Harlem, reports the Gotham Gazette. “Tabitha used to hate to go to school, now she loves it,” said Maria Ortiz of her granddaughter Tabitha Colon, who transferred out of a Catholic school to attend Global Tech. As its name implies, this school relies on technology to capture the attention of its students and give them a sense of responsibility and empowerment, as well as to teach academic subjects, such as math and English language arts, in new and more engaging ways. With this approach, Global Tech is a poster child for one of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s latest experiments, the so-called Innovation Zone, or iZone. This effort seeks to use new approaches to education, including more flexible class schedules that extend learning throughout the day and calendar year, and digital technology to improve student engagement and performance. This school year, Global Tech is one of 10 pilot schools in the iZone, which will be expanded to 81 public schools in the 2010-11 school year. The education department is hoping that Global Tech and other schools like it can finally do something to improve middle school achievement and solve one of the most intractable problems in the city’s education system…

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