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article imageFBI warns of ransomware attacks on educational organizations

By Tim Sandle     Mar 17, 2021 in Technology
A series of cyberattacks are occurring with education institutions as the targets. The attacks extend to twelve U.S. states so far, plus some schools within the U.K. Ransoms are being demanded.
The U.S. FBI has issued a warning to system administrators and cybersecurity professionals after their reporting has indicated a recent increase in new PYSA ransomware. The ransomware appears to be targeting education institutions across different U.S. states, as well as within the U.K. and potentially some other countries. The as yet unidentified malicious group have specifically targeted higher education (colleges and universities), K-12 schools (a U.S. terms for publicly-supported school grades prior to college) and religion specific training centers.
James Carder, who is the Chief Security Officer at LogRhythm, explains the concerns to Digital Journal. He outlines why the education sector is central to the spate of attacks: “Educational institutions are major targets for hackers as thousands of people’s sensitive information is potentially involved. Plus the substantial shift towards e-learning has made them even more appealing to hackers and ransomware. Such attacks on schools can bring education to a stop while potentially exposing every pupil and teacher’s personal data within the organization."
Things don't just stop at the school gate. Carder finds that: "Parents and guardians are also targets and they may be coerced into paying ransom for personal information."
Carder then considers the specific U.S. government agency warning: "This FBI warning is an important reminder that educational institutions must take a proactive approach and invest in cybersecurity solutions designed to detect malicious behavior and enable network infrastructure to block any further access attempts."
The solution is for: "Institutions should patch, to create backups, prepare a response plan, and then to prioritize educational training to ensure they are equipped to handle attacks and proceed without disruption.”
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