Why Are Schools a Prime Target for Cybercriminals?
Education systems holds copious amounts of sensitive information — including health and financial records, Social Security numbers and home addresses — making them excellent targets for cybercriminals to exploit.
Detection and prevention measures continuously evolve, improving such protections as strict permission guidelines, network traffic monitoring and multifactor authentication. However, attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often bypassing these commonly used defense measures.
Users of school-issued devices, both staff and students, can unintentionally grant bad actors access to their personal information. Users who are chronically online — whether they’re engaging in virtual learning, planning lessons or spending extended hours on social media —often openly share every aspect of their lives on these platforms, including information about where they work and go to school. While this may seem harmless, the growth in artificial intelligence technology gives cybercriminals access to a wealth of knowledge for finding their next target.
In the face of these increased risks and vulnerabilities, educational systems often lack the necessary resources to mitigate cyberattacks. The average school spends less than 8 percent of its IT budget on cybersecurity, and 1 in 5 schools commit less than 1 percent.
Without safeguards, districts will continue to endure the consequences of attacks that stem from human error, made worse by IT departments that are too strapped to manage complex technologies appropriately.
Instead, IT leaders must implement proactive measures to ensure student and staff data remains safe and unchangeable.
Schools Need Preventive Security Protections as Ransomware Evolves
Ransomware is advancing technologically. Cyberattackers are now able to use nearby microphones to execute acoustic attacks, capturing users’ keystrokes with a staggering 95 percent accuracy. Such technology could quickly evolve beyond predicting passwords to eavesdropping on text chats or exposing confidential data.
As schools embrace a wealth of devices and connectivity options, navigating the complexities of budgeting and cyber resiliency becomes even more daunting. Rather than remaining perpetual victims, schools can pivot to become the front line of defense against ransomware attacks.