Ransomware and K-12: Securing your network

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*Note: This is the second post in a multi-part blog series that addresses ransomware threats and solutions in K-12 environments.

Last month, we discussed Horry County School District’s experience with a crippling ransomware attack, having no choice but to pay a $10,000 ransom to unlock critical data and systems. We highlighted the first step in strengthening an organization’s security posture against such attacks: user training and awareness. Educating users to be aware of spoofed emails, misleading links, or suspicious attachments is an integral part of network security that can stop a ransomware attack before it even starts.

While effective user training and awareness can significantly reduce the number of successful attacks, keeping your network free of malware also requires a combination of effective perimeter filtering, strategically designed network architecture, and the capability to detect and eliminate resident malware that may already be inside your network. Here are some additional measures schools can take to can help fortify their networks against cyberattacks:

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  • Prevent threats from entering the network with a next-generation firewall or email security gateway solution to filter out the bulk of the threats. An effective solution should scan incoming traffic using signature matching, advanced heuristics, behavioral analysis, sandboxing, and the ability to correlate findings with real-time global threat intelligence.
  • Control and segment network access to minimize the spread of threats that do get in. Ensure that students can only spread malware within their own, limited domain, while also segmenting, for example, administration, teachers, and guests, each with limited, specific access to online resources.

According to DarkReading, education institutions suffer malware attacks in greater proportions than their peers in government, healthcare, energy, retail, or finance. Phishing and ransomware attacks are not only increasing in number quarter-over-quarter, but these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and malicious in nature. Coupled with user-awareness, protecting your network perimeter across all threat vectors is paramount to combat the ever-changing threat landscape.

Check back next month, when we’ll highlight the most integral part of network defense:  a solid backup and recovery plan.

To read all of the posts in this series, click here.


Barracuda security and data-protection solutions are simple, powerful, and affordable. And they give educators the ability to safely access online educational resources, to enrich learning while preventing data breaches and other cyber threats.

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