Ransomware attacks on schools are on the rise in the United States of America and North Carolina seems to be the primary target. In the post-COVID-19 world, if there is anything bad that’s going to come out of the hiding within cyberspace it would be ransomware attacks.
As you read these lines there must be hundreds if not thousands of such attacks happening, however, not all of them would be directed at schools. That is exactly what the district schools in North Carolina have been subjected to all this time.
As many as five of the district in North Carolina have reportedly been subjected to ransomware attacks so far in the year 2020. We are talking about during the COVID-19 lockdown while the classes were online, and schools in Haywood County were forced to shut down online classes for a week’s time. That’s time and money cost not only to the district but also to the students and the parents of these respective students.
Advantage of Ransomware attacks on schools
Mitchell County Schools are among the district schools that got during the current ransomware outbreak, and the story there is a tell tale of the major advantage in ransomware attacks on school.
The county is located in the rural areas of the Western North Carolina, the staff members are not as computer literate as you can expect from an urban dweller. This becomes the Bingo point, a simple file, a simple download, or just a simple wrong click on an unwanted browser extension becomes the hosting target.
Before the user can even figure out what they did wrong, it is already too late.
The similar issue was observed at the Mitchell County School where a staff member found the computers stuck in the safety mode on after another, even the district’s technology director had to resort to the internet service provider to find out that they have been a target of a series of ransomware attacks on schools.
Michael Nicolaides, the chief information officer for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, is of the view that these attacks are coming in a variety and they are free to target specific organizations as well as carrying out generalized attacks. So far, beside the Mitchell County and Haywood Schools, Schools in Orange county, Mecklenburg County, Davidson County, Pasquotank county, Robeson county and Duplin county have been targeted in the North Carolina alone.
On the other hand, beside the ransomware attacks on schools Blackbaud – a major software provider to the educational institutions – has also been hacked, where the data lost included information on educational institutions and their donor data. The government is working on the solutions, however, lack of funds and resources is definitely going to hinder the process especially in the post-pandemic world where the country is already suffering a major economic downturn.