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January 3, 2023 | By christa
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The Rise Of Ransomware Has Dire Consequences For Education

Cybersecurity is crucial in today’s connected society. As our country’s infrastructure and vital systems are connected to the internet, they are at risk of cyber attacks. The education sector is no exception. 

Education institutions are becoming more reliant on information and communication technologies, but this also exposes them to the risk of ransomware attacks. In this article, we will explore the impact of ransomware on the education sector and the importance of cybersecurity in protecting our schools and universities.

Ransomware Attacks On Schools On the Rise

According to antivirus software vendor Emsisoft research , 88 ransomware attacks targeted the education sector in 2021, affecting a total of 1,043 schools. This is a decrease from the previous year, when 1,681 schools were affected.

However, data from Sophos’ The State of Ransomware in Education 2022  report shows that the number of higher education institutions and K-12 schools affected by ransomware attacks has increased, with 64% and 56% of respondents reporting attacks in the past year, respectively.

These findings highlight the need for schools to invest in cybersecurity solutions and ransomware prevention.

The Effects of Ransomware On The Academic Community

The impact of ransomware on the education sector can be devastating. Schools may experience data loss, sensitive information exposure, high costs, and a disruption of daily operations, including the inability to access email and classroom materials. In severe cases, ransomware attacks can even lead to permanent closures.

According to Emsisoft’s research, 95% of schools reported that ransomware attacks disrupted their daily operations, and 40% of postsecondary institutions said that their operations were not back to normal after a month. The recovery period for schools was also longer than other sectors, with an average of nearly three months.

In addition, 44 out of the 88 ransomware attacks in 2021 resulted in data theft and the publication of private information about staff and students.

The costs of ransomware attacks can be significant. For example, Lincoln College reportedly paid a $100,000 ransom after being attacked in 2021, but the school was ultimately unable to fully recover and closed in 2022. The impact of ransomware on schools and universities cannot be underestimated.

How Schools Can Get Ahead Of Cyber Threats

To protect against cyber threats, schools must proactively address vulnerabilities and implement best practices. Here are some steps that educational institutions can take:

  1. Identify vulnerabilities: Conduct regular assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses in your school’s cybersecurity defenses.
  2. Take numerous best practice actions: Implement measures such as two-factor authentication, network segmentation, and regular software updates to reduce the risk of attacks.
  3. Recruit professional reinforcements: Some schools may not have the resources to hire a full-time security professional, but outsourcing cybersecurity solutions and ransomware protection can help keep your institution safe.

Some organizations might not have the personnel or budget to employ a full-time security professional. However, they can outsource assistance in ransomware protection and cybersecurity solutions to keep their institution safe against attacks.

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