The US Department of Education(DoE) has issued an alert to all schools operating in the United States on ransomware related cyber attacks. The alert specifies that almost all K12 schools operating across the US are weak when it comes to security making them extremely vulnerable to hackers.
So, the education department said in its statement that all teachers, parents and the staff of the K12 schools have to follow measures to make the school’s cyber defenses impassible.
From early this year, DOE has witnessed a series of cyber attacks on K12 schools sparking a debate over whether the schools should pay ransoms to reclaim their data and systems.
DoE learned that more than 60% of schools targeted by hackers choose to pay a ransom to free up their data between 2016-17.
So, Tina Rodrigue, the senior advisor for cybersecurity at DOE’s Federal Student Aid posted a cyber advisory on the website last week. The alert is intended for IT staff of K12 schools and districts, as well as higher education institutions.
Tina has clearly discouraged the schools from paying a ransom to hackers. Instead, she is asking the IT staff to come up with a business continuity plan by seeking data continuity measures.
The advisory also insists on carrying security audits to identify weakness and asks to update/patch vulnerable systems
Moreover, the alert asks all K-12 schools to take up audit logs from time to time and to track suspicious activity in order to avoid any untoward situation in near future.
Training staff and students on data security best practices and creating an awareness of phishing and social engineering attacks are also being encouraged by DoE.
In addition to backing up data, the DOE is also suggesting the use of ransomware protection tools to K-12 schools.
On an overall note, DoE wants the entire K-12 school community to bond together and send out a powerful message to hackers saying “We back up our data, so we don’t have the need to pay the ransom”