The number of publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents affecting K-12 school systems rose by 18% in 2020 over the previous year, according to a report published earlier this year by the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center and the K12 Security Information Exchange, or K12 Six, a new nonprofit group. https://edscoop.com/k12-cyberattacks-rose-2021/
In total, the two organizations counted 408 incidents, including denial-of-service attacks, ransomware, data breaches and phishing attacks last year, the most since the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center started tracking such events in 2016. The incidents affected 377 organizations spread across 40 states, with 51% of all attacks affecting rural districts, which are often poorly equipped to respond to an IT emergency.
And while the first three months of 2020 were largely a continuation of the trends of 2019 — a year in which ransomware against the education sector surged — the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic create new threats for schools, all while officials’ were scrambling to outfit teachers and students for virtual learning environments.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also seen an increase in malicious activity with ransomware attacks against K-12 educational institutions. https://www.cisa.gov/publication/cyber-threats-k-12-remote-learning-education Malicious cyber actors are targeting school computer systems, slowing access, and rendering the systems inaccessible to basic functions, including remote learning. In some instances, ransomware actors stole and threatened to leak confidential student data unless institutions paid a ransom.
Since March, uninvited users have disrupted live-conferenced classroom settings by verbally harassing students, displaying pornography and violent images, and doxing meeting attendees.
Are you prepared for the Back to School surge in activity. Hackers know that faculty and students are returning to schools across the U.S. over the next several weeks and cybersecurity experts are predicting a surge in threats. Contact us for additional information on how to better protect your school system.