Home School studies suspended due to cyber attacks

School studies suspended due to cyber attacks

May 15th — Cyber attacks are affecting schools and causing widespread disruption. In recent months, they’ve led to cancelled lessons, limited learning, long lunchtime queues, and operational upsets, including the inability to complete homework online.

According to recent data from the U.K’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there were 347 cyber incidents reported in the U.K’s education sector in 2023, marking a significant 55% increase from the previous year.

Ransomware threats are rising

Instances of ransomware have surged, with incidents increasing by 170% between 2022 and 2023. School leaders are emphasizing the need for open discussions regarding how to manage and respond to unanticipated cyber events.

For many educational institutions, cyber security risk management is still very new. And of course, limited budgets constrain investments in robust cyber security defenses, rendering schools particularly vulnerable to cyber exploitation.

Recent cyber attacks on schools

Earlier this year, two different school systems in the U.K. were hit by separate cyber attacks within days of one another.

“The whole thing feels very sinister,” said Embrace Trust CEO Sharon Mullins. Within minutes of hearing about a potential ransomware incident, Mullins ordered for her school system to fully disconnect from the digital world.

“You’re basically telling every teacher…that whatever they had planned that day, they can no longer teach with immediate effect,” she said.

As she puts it, the theft of student data is quite personal. Receiving a ransom demand in exchange for the possible, yet not guaranteed, return of the data is not something that teachers are trained for when they begin their careers.

Resources for schools

To proactively prepare for cyber attacks, including ransomware, schools may want to provide comprehensive cyber security training to teachers and staff.

Educational systems and individual institutions are also encouraged to conduct regular risk assessments to help identify vulnerabilities in the school’s network infrastructure, software systems and data storage locations.

But these recommendations barely scratch the surface in terms of how schools must adapt their cyber security thinking and protocols…Discover useful resources for schools below:

For more information about the latest ransomware attacks on schools, please visit the BBC. To receive compelling cyber insights, groundbreaking research and emerging threat analyses each week, subscribe to the CyberTalk.org newsletter.