School Districts At High Risk Of Cybercrime

Did you know that 500 schools have been hit by ransomware in 2019? In fact, 100 of those incidents took place just in the past month alone. A school in Flagstaff have to cancel classes early in the semester because they had to take their systems offline after being infected by ransomware.

The fact is that ransomware attacks in the education sector are becoming more and more common. Do you know how ransomware works, and how to protect your educators and students from it?

What Is Ransomware?

In a ransomware attack, a hacker gains access to an organization’s computer systems.

Typically, an unsuspecting user clicks on an emailed attachment that appears to be a bill or other official document. In actuality, the attachment installs a malicious software program (malware) onto the computer system. Once embedded, the malware allows a hacker to access critical systems, often giving complete remote control data and access.

Ransomware generally infects a target system via phishing, a method in which cybercriminals send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.

The thing is, just because you’ve seen one phishing email doesn’t mean you’ve seen them all. Just this year, a new variation of phishing was discovered, in which cybercriminals embed malware in emails and disguising it as a voicemail recording.

What Does This Mean For School Districts?

If you operate in the education sector, then you need to be aware of scams like this. The same type of strategy can work just as effectively against your students via their school email accounts, as well as your staff members.

Protection against ransomware and phishing comes down to a three-tiered approach:

1. Data Backup
If you have you have a data backup solution, then it doesn’t matter if your data has been encrypted. You can just replace it with your backup, simple as that.

That’s why you should make a considerable investment in a comprehensive backup data recovery solution so that you can restore your data at a moment’s notice when necessary.

Be sure to:

  • Back up data on a regular basis (at least daily).
  • Inspect your backups to verify that they maintain their integrity.
  • Secure your backups and keep them independent from the networks and computers they are backing up.

2. Patch Management
You can’t afford to ignore software update notifications – but depending on your workload, you may have to. That’s where an IT company can help.

Software updates are not only to improve the functionality of the software; they also serve as a patch for recently identified vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Your IT company can handle the management of these updates to make sure that not a single one is ever skipped or delayed.

3. User Awareness

Share these tips to make sure your school community knows how to spot a phishing attempt:

  • Watch For Overly Generic Content And Greetings: Cybercriminals will send a large batch of emails. Look for examples like “Dear valued customer.”
  • Examine The Entire From Email Address: The first part of the email address may be legitimate, but the last part might be off by a letter or may include a number in the usual domain.
  • Look For Urgency Or Demanding Actions: “You’ve won! Click here to redeem a prize,” or “We have your browser history pay now or we are telling your boss.”
  • Carefully Check All Links: Mouse over the link and see if the link’s destination matches where the email implies you will be taken.
  • Notice Misspellings, Incorrect Grammar, & Odd Phrasing: This might be a deliberate attempt to try and bypass spam filters.
  • Don’t Click On Attachments Right Away: Virus containing attachments might have an intriguing message encouraging you to open them such as “Here is the Schedule I promised.”

Keep Your Schools Secure

In addition to a range of other managed IT services, EPC IT Solutions will protect your school’s network with robust security solutions. Anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls, and emergency data backup will help to minimize threats against your staff and your student body.

With our support, your teachers and admin staff won’t have to worry every time they or a pupil opens an email – they can focus on cultivating an effective learning environment instead.

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