Why Did The US Government Warn That School Ransomware Attacks Could Increase?

As students return to school and cybercriminals perceive more extortion chances, ransomware assaults on US schools may rise, federal officials said on Tuesday as the Los Angeles Unified School District battled a big ransomware strike.

According to a public advisory from the FBI, US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the MS-ISAC, a cyberthreat-sharing body, a ransomware gang known as Vice Society has been “disproportionately targeting the education sector with ransomware attacks.” Vice Society first surfaced last year.

Federal officials noted that schools with few cybersecurity resources are frequently the most susceptible to ransomware, but even well-protected school networks can fall victim to opportunistic hackers.

Due to the sensitive student data maintained on school networks or by third-party digital businesses, Kโ€“12 institutions “may be considered as particularly profitable targets,” the advice warned.

The warning comes as one of the biggest school districts in the US, Los Angeles Unified, said that a ransomware attack over Labor Day weekend caused “substantial interruption” to computer systems but did not prompt the cancellation of classes.

Who committed the hack of the school system’s computers is unknown. The school district has been contacted by CNN for comment. For school administrators who are already battling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, ransomware assaults have been an additional worry.

According to a count by cybersecurity company Emsisoft, the ransomware attack on the Los Angeles school district is the 50th this year in the US education sector. After a pandemic-related reduction in enrollment and the consequences of a ransomware attack on its computer systems, a predominately Black institution in Illinois was forced to close its doors in May.

The US Government Warn That School Ransomware Attacks Could Increase
The US Government Warn That School Ransomware Attacks Could Increase

A different ransomware attack in January compelled the closure of the more than 140 public schools that make up the Albuquerque, New Mexico, public school system for two days as a result of the hacking of systems that store data on emergency contacts for students and adults with the authority to pick up students from school.

The websites of roughly 5,000 schools, primarily in the US, that used the software were impacted by another ransomware attack on a software provider the same month.

The Department of Education has been urged to take additional steps to safeguard schools against hacking risks by the Government Accountability Office, a government auditor.

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