Educational institutions are key targets for cyberattacks with incidents increasing each year. The beginning of the 2020-21 school year saw a 30% increase in the weekly average of cyberattacks with the majority of these attacks being ransomware attacks. Ransomware uses a computer virus that blocks access to important resources, such as the school's email, grade books, personal files, and confidential documents. In September, 57% of all ransomware attacks involved K-12 educational institutions, up from 28% in January. These increases in attacks are brought on by distance learning, which has introduced more methods for malicious entities to attack a school, due to a district's network needing to be opened up.
The upward trend is not isolated to 2020. In 2019, 1044 schools in the U.S. were infected with ransomware, which was a 41% increase of these attacks from 2018, while 2018 saw a 22% increase from 2017, with many of the ransoms being over a million dollars and the ransoms themselves have been increasing over the years. These attacks have proven profitable for criminals and the threat will continue to rise.
Since we work at an educational institution and deal with confidential information, it is important for us to learn how to protect that information. We can do this by understanding the threats and applying protective measures to our daily work flow.