School re-openings in the USA hit by Ransomware and DDoS

As the US school districts are preparing to offer virtual classes to their students to contain the quick spread of COVID 19 Pandemic, cyber threats- mostly of ransomware genre are seen disrupting most of the activity.

Early this week, Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut reported that it became a victim of a ransomware attack that forced the authorities to cancel the opening of the school for a couple of days. The same was witnessed with other schools like Clark County that were hit by a file-encrypting malware attack.

While most of the attacks were related to file-encrypting malware, some even belonged to denial of service attacks where the servers of the educational institutes are hit by fake web traffic disrupting the services for the real web traffic.

Kaspersky says that there has been a surge in cyberattacks on educational institutions especially, after the announcement of lockdown. In most cases, the intention was clear- to steal classical information and, in some cases, it was just to disrupt the services denying the staff and students from accessing study related material.

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky says that the number of DDoS attacks impacting educational institutes increased by 350% between Jan 2020 to June 2020 compared to the same last year.

Dissecting the attacks on an individual note, security researchers from Kaspersky observed that DDoS attacks in Q1 2020 increased by 80% when compared to 15% during the same time last year.

Denial of service attacks weren’t the only ones to target the educators and students as Kaspersky recorded several other threats hitting the online learning platforms such as Zoom, Moodle, eDX, Coursera, Google Meet, Blackboard, and Google Classroom.

Furthermore, researchers also observed an uptick in the phishing emails and spam messages laced with malware under the disguise of various online learning platforms.

The reason why most of the schools are been hit by malware is that they never showed seriousness in developing their defense skills against the cyber threats existing in the current cyber landscape.

However, the situation might turn positive in coming days as most of the CTOs and CIOs of school districts have learned a good lesson on why they need to protect their online resources as there seems to be no other alternative other than to arrange online classes for students to contain the spread of COVID 19 at least for next few months.

Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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