Every year, as autumn brings cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and pumpkin-spice beverages, millions of parents, young people, college students, teachers and professors mark the season by embarking on their first day of school. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the frenetic push to remote learning, this year has been quite different. 

Barely into the 2020 school year, the cyber-criminal group MAZE announced that they carried out a crypto-ransomware attack on Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, the 12th largest school system in the US. As proof of the attack, the threat actors uploaded a zip file of data they claim was exfiltrated from the school system. Unfortunately, this is not the first, nor will it be the last of these types of attacks targeting our K-12 and Higher Ed institutions. According to Infosecurity Magazine, Fairfax County is the 53rd school system to be attacked in 2020.

Of the many attacks against the education sector, Ransomware continues to be the attack of choice for most threat actors. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach report, Ransomware is responsible for 80% of malware-related attacks targeting the education sector. Additionally, the FBI has issued several alerts, warning schools that “cyber actors are likely to increase targeting of K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic because they represent an opportunistic target as more of these institutions transition to distance learning.” 

In a survey of 17 US industries conducted by SecurityScorecard prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, education ranked lowest. The key areas sited for poor performance ranged from application security, to patching cadence, to overall network security. At the beginning of any normal academic year, these known vulnerabilities would offer threat actors a rich target for confidential student data, financial information, and a public stage for hacktivism. Enter COVID-19 and the frenetic push to remote learning, and suddenly its open season for hackers on K-12 and higher ed institutions, targeting the remote endpoints, 3rd party learning systems (blackboard, etc.), and the vulnerable open networks of these school systems.

Unfortunately, the education sector, especially K-12, is ill equipped to protect from these attacks. In addition to tight budgets, most schools lack the cybersecurity know-how to combat sophisticated cyber attacks like ransomware. Especially in the new norm of expanded attack surfaces and remote endpoints. Even worse, most schools lack dedicated cybersecurity team members, and many schools can’t keep up to date on the latest hacking techniques and trends. 

Fortunately, there is a simpler way. The Bandura Cyber Threat Intelligence Firewall platform delivers network security powered by real-time threat intelligence.

Check out our latest datasheet, Threat Intelligence for K-12 and Higher Ed to learn more about how Bandura Cyber is helping schools, colleges, and universities protect from cyberattacks like Ransomware.

To start protecting your school district or college network with actionable threat intelligence today, call 1.855.765.4925 or email sales@banduracyber.com.