Cyber attacks on schools increasing amid remote learning shift
An increase in school cyber attacks this fall has seen ransomware and DDoS attacks disrupt operations and force some school districts to postpone classes. Experts say that attacks will only increase since weak security postures and remote learning make schools a prime target.
According to W. Curtis Preston, Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, “In today’s increasingly hyper-connected world, the unfortunate fact is that no organization, regardless of industry, is safe from a ransomware attack. The move to remote learning, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has exposed schools to even greater risks, at a time when attackers are thinking strategically about which sectors to target and why. Many school districts still haven’t elevated their concerns for ransomware attacks. Many students and teachers continue to use cloud storage applications like Google Drive and Dropbox to upload, share, and manage documents, consequently making it easier for malware and ransomware to be delivered and spread throughout a school’s networks – without an easy way to recover from such attacks.
Some of the best practices to consider for protecting students, teachers and the entire community include backing up your data offsite so schools can recover from a ransomware attack. Some backup services can also detect that a ransomware attack has happened due to patterns in the data, and notify school administrators so that may immediately stop and remediate the attack. Schools should also implement automation systems and utilize software that scans and flags for personal information that is at risk. Automating systems can save IT teams’ time and simultaneously stay ahead of detecting and preventing cyber attacks. As an IT team, you’re going to have to stay ahead of the curve at all times, and automation can help with this.
Finally, as more school districts distribute devices to students, they’ll need the ability to remotely wipe a system, a capability that comes with mobile device management solutions. Remote wipe can track where devices are and remotely erase data on those devices if they are stolen or lost.
At the end of the day, getting the basics right is absolutely critical. You can have all of that innovative technology on the back end, but if somebody leaves the front door wide open, it won’t even matter.”