Ransomware attacks on schools continue to increase

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Schools have been under extreme pressure this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students need additional help with the new safety measures or remote learning, and parents are flooding schools with questions, suggestions, or complaints.  Faculty and staff who were overworked last year now have the additional responsibilities of deep-cleaning classrooms, lockers, and buses.  Many educators are putting in more time to help students overcome the negative and potentially lifelong effect this pandemic will have on their education and careers.  Some teachers are simply not willing or able to return to work.  

Unfortunately, it looks like cybercrime will be another area of increased risk and stress.  U.S. schools were an attractive target for ransomware in 2019, and they’ve become more popular this year as the pandemic caused a massive disruption in how education is delivered to students. Barracuda research shows that attacks on schools and universities made up 15% of attacks in 2020, compared to 6% in 2019. 


Source:  Threat Spotlight: Ransomware

Hartford Public School District had to delay the start of school to mitigate a ransomware attack that caused an outage of over 200 critical servers, including those that house the sensitive student information system.  Athens School District paid $50,000 ransom (insured) and delayed the start of school by a week.  An August 27 attack on Clark County School District (CCSD) in Las Vegas ultimately resulted in a data breach after officials refused to pay the ransom

The CCSD incident should serve as a reminder that ransomware attacks can’t always be resolved with a good data backup.  Many attackers now use a tactic called “double extortion,” which involves stealing sensitive data during the attack and threatening to publish or sell the data if a ransom is not paid.  According to Threat Analyst Brett Callow, at least 12 school districts fell victim to cyberattacks in September, which affected nearly 600 individual schools.  Almost half of these districts had data stolen and published online.

How Barracuda can help protect schools

Barracuda provides ransomware protection for schools and school districts of all sizes.  Our multi-layered defense protects the data of the organization in three different ways:

Detect:  Multi-layer scanning technologies, including sandbox analysis, can detect dormant email threats that are already in your systems with our free online scanners.  Our computer-based security awareness training will keep your employees up-to-date on the latest threats and how to spot them, and our Advanced Threat Protection service will detect zero-hour attacks on any vector and share that data across all your Barracuda security solutions.

Prevent:  Barracuda’s advanced CloudGen Firewalls monitor and secure incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent ransomware and other malware attacks.  Our email security solutions combine several layers of filtering techniques plus backup and archiving for Office 365.

Recover:  Whether your data resides on-premises or in the cloud, Barracuda has you covered.  Barracuda Backup and Barracuda Cloud-to-Cloud Backup make it simple and fast to restore an up-to-date copy of any file, whether you’re restoring an entire server or specifically selecting files to restore.

For more on Barracuda ransomware solutions, visit our website here.

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