InfoSec / Cyber

The Importance of Schools Staying Protected Against Ransomware

As we’ve spoken about before in past articles, since the pandemic there has been a worrying increase in cyber attacks, with the education sector seeing the highest increase and total number of attacks. Our article on this can be read on our news page.

The cyber resilience centre, a great source of information on cyber security and the impact cyber attacks have, has a recent news article on ransomware specifically and how it impacts schools. 

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack where software which is designed to prevent computer systems from being accessed infiltrates your system and encrypts your data. The ransomware is then kept there until a ransom is paid, at which point the hackers remove the harmful software (hopefully). Ransomware can also be where a virus threatens to release or even delete your files until the ransom is paid. Normally, these viruses can find their way on to computers as a result of weak software, having passwords that aren’t strong enough and therefore easily guessed, or phishing emails which have malicious links, which when clicked download the harmful software onto your computer. 

The article goes on to explain why the education sector, and schools in particular, are being targeted due to the sheer amount of personal data schools hold. Information such as medical records, contact details, bank details of parents and staff, as well as exam grades are all perfect types of information that can be held as a ransom, and hackers can threaten to post these types of data online, or even sell them to cybercriminal forums and other marketplaces. 

The article also has a list of tips for schools on how they can best protect themselves from ransomware attacks, which I’ll detail below:

  • Don’t plug in unfamiliar USB devices.
  • Only download files from trusted websites.
  • Ensure your IT department is regularly scanning emails and systems for malware.
  • If you’re using a public wifi, use a VPN.
  • Don’t click on unverified links, especially when they have been sent from senders or sources you don’t recognise.
  • Always back up your data as restoring files from a backup is the quickest way to regain access to your data.

With cyber attacks becoming an ever increasing threat, particularly for schools, it’s essential that steps are taken to protect your organisation as best as you can against any attacks. Feel free to contact us if you would like any advice on protecting against cyber attacks and what steps your organisation can take.

The full article on the Cyber Resilience Centre website can be found here.