K-12 networks, just like other enterprise networks, have a great deal of activity, are highly visible, and are therefore highly susceptible to outside attacks. Ransomware attacks against school districts have particularly risen in recent years and are among the most desirable targets for attackers. This happens mainly due to the smaller IT teams they employ as well as the smaller budgets with which they must often operate.
There have been over 314 reported cyberattacks against school districts in the United States between January 2016 and March 2018, resulting in the disclosure of personal information, the loss of taxpayer dollars, and the loss of instructional time. Some of them even resulted in identity theft, as well as criminal charges for the perpetrators.
Regular backups of critical information must be performed in order for IT managers to keep their schools’ networks as secure as possible. They should also get hold of the current versions of all operating systems as well as all currently released software patches. Antivirus signature databases should also be kept up-to-date at all times and these updates should be regularly carried out based upon a strict maintenance schedule.
Contrary to popular belief, end users can be one line of defence against attackers is they are educated about properly identifying possible signs of malware and phishing attempts. Deployment of firewalls, network segmentation, and email security solutions are some of the highly recommended security measures.
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