In the past few years, the education sector has seen an increase in ransomware attacks as malicious actors try to take advantage of required third-party services, weak password habits in students, and gaps in network cybersecurity. These attacks have proven both effective and profitable for the attackers, so it is critical that everyone working in the education sector strengthens their network security. Today, we want to talk about why malicious actors have increased their activity in the education sector and, more importantly, how working with a reliable IT consultant can help keep student and teacher information safe.
Why Target Education?
The education sector is a prime target for ransomware because schools have a large number of accounts with valuable personally identifiable information (PII) on students and teachers and are constantly adding new users each year. As students and teachers leave the school, their accounts become vulnerable and a viable attack target for hackers that IT departments can’t always shutdown or protect. Along with this, hackers also know that once a school network is locked down by ransomware, administration will do whatever it takes to get the school running again, which makes them more likely to pay the demanded ransom even if the hackers still steal PII to sell on the dark web later.
Ransomware Attacks on the Rise
Malicious actors have begun targeting the education sector at a higher rate than in the past, and the switch to online work since the COVID-19 pandemic is a large contributing factor to this. Students and teachers now need more third-party accounts than ever, and malicious actors are keen to take advantage of this to find opportunities to infect school systems with ransomware. Because of the large number of school accounts, malicious actors can still profit off of a successful attack by selling stolen PII on the dark web if the school does not pay. Schools may also have cyber insurance, which will sometimes cover the costs of an attack to regain control of the network quickly.
Protecting School Networks
The good news is that when it comes to facing the rise in ransomware attacks, schools and universities do not have to tackle the problem alone. Working with a local IT consultant like Robinett Consulting can help keep a school network safe. For example, an outside IT consultant can perform network risk assessments to ensure a school’s cybersecurity does not contain gaps or misconfigurations. A reliable IT consultant can act as a school’s managed service provider (MSP) and offer high value deals for the school while working with someone in the local community. Additionally, a school can outsource some of its IT troubleshooting to an IT consultant to get assistance with help desk tasks or basic trouble shooting.
By working with a reliable IT consultant, the education sector can both decrease the likelihood of a successful ransomware attack and offload IT work so the school’s IT department can focus on keeping teachers and students safe while they learn. Every member of our team here at Robinett Consulting values our local community and understands the pivotal role schools play in developing it. That’s why we aim to bring enterprise level IT into the classroom, so every classroom can prioritize education without worrying about becoming the next target of a ransomware attack.
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