Cyber-Attacks Targeting Schools Are on the Rise: Here’s How to Protect Your Institution

August 2021

With more schools relying on virtual learning platforms than ever before, cybercriminals are looking to take advantage. Unfortunately, recent findings by the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have revealed that cyber-attacks within the K-12 education sector are increasing at an alarming rate.

Specifically, one study found that between August and September of 2020, 57 percent of reported ransomware attacks were carried out against K-12 schools. This number is more than double the percentage of ransomware attacks seen from January through July of the 2020 academic year.

It’s not just ransomware attacks that are on the rise; cybercriminals are also carrying out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, phishing schemes, and other hacks at record rates. In some cases, attackers have even threatened to share sensitive student data as part of their ransomware schemes – creating more tension and uncertainty in these educational institutions.

What Does This Mean For Schools in 2021 and Beyond?

Although some schools have returned to in-person learning across the country, many are still relying on virtual learning to some degree. As Coronavirus cases have once again increased in some regions of the country, many schools are now being forced to revert to digital platforms.

Unfortunately, with these instances of ransomware and other attacks on the rise, schools need to be more careful than ever when handling their students’ information. There is a greater need than ever for cybersecurity awareness – and schools must begin implementing some common-sense best practices to keep student data safe.

Cybersecurity for Schools: Tips for Protecting Sensitive Student Data

Fortunately, school IT professionals can begin taking steps to reduce their institutional risk of falling victim to an online attack. First and foremost, schools should revisit their hosting plans. Those relying on shared or cloud-based hosting should make the switch to a dedicated server host for greater security and control. Meanwhile, schools that do not already have some form of DDoS protection in place on their servers should implement this as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of unexpected downtime and server speed issues.

When it comes to handling sensitive information about students, now is also a good time to make sure that files and other important data are backed up and encrypted. With quality data encryption, student information can remain secure even if it ends up in the wrong hands.

Of course, school administrators and IT professionals should also revisit their plans-of-action in the event of a cyber-attack. By making sure that everyone knows what steps to take, damage can be mitigated more easily.

It’s Time to Make the Switch to Dedicated Hosting

Is your school ready to upgrade to a more secure dedicated hosting plan in these uncertain times? If so, then ReliableSite can help. Contact us today to learn more about how our dedicated servers can help you improve cybersecurity at your school. Our team is happy to answer your questions help you find the perfect hosting plan.