Schools remain vulnerable to the impact of ransomware attacks

In January 2022, the Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa closed due to a ransomware attack, causing Wi-Fi to be down for weeks. The district stated that personal identifiable information (PII) had been compromised, and students were back in school by January 12. Similarly, a school on Nantucket Island also recently faced a cyberattack, leading to unexpected school closures.

 Ransomware attacks on K-12 schools have increased in recent years, and they are considered easy targets due to the large amounts of valuable PII stored in their systems. MSPs with educational clients must better assess attack surfaces and protect PII. A zero-trust program could help reduce infection, block lateral network movement, block exfiltration of stolen data, and alert suspicious network activity.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a report on cyber safety with recommendations for schools, such as investing in impactful security measures, recognizing and addressing resource constraints, and focusing on collaboration and information-sharing. A complete MFA program, frequent backups, and fixing known vulnerabilities are also recommended. MSPs must have a cyber incident response team in place and ensure that every staff member is trained to detect and ward off cyberattacks.