Are Cyberattacks at Schools Being Overlooked?

Image via ThinkStock

Image via ThinkStock

School districts around the country have been hit with cyber attacks in recent years.

In 2015, three high school seniors in New York were accused of hacking into their school’s computer system to change their grades and schedules.

In Florida, state standardized testing was interrupted that same year when hackers overwhelmed a testing vendor’s server with traffic, making computer screens go blank.

Verizon’s 2017 data breach Investigation Report, which provides a look at cybersecurity incidents across the country. They recorded 455 “security incidents” in the education sector last year.

There are hackers in students, but in most cases, they aren’t after a particular government agency or company. And for hackers, school networks are a gold mine.

A large school district will handle personal information, including social security numbers of hundreds of thousands of current and former students, along with data on thousands of employees and parents.

Unlike corporations that have a lot of data to protect, many school districts make connectivity as easy as possible. With free Wi-fi and students bringing their own devices, there are thousands of opportunities for hackers to gain access to the network. Unfortunately for schools, the data they handle is particularly valuable to cyber criminals.

Students’ Social Security numbers are very valuable because most high school kids do not have a credit score. They are blank slates that hackers are willing to wait on so that they can use it.

On the dark web, these Social Security numbers can sell for $25 to $35 a piece. The information from one school could easily be $10,000.

That appears to be the motivation for many hackers in the last few years. Untarnished Social Security numbers are a gold mine.

Bolstering Defenses

School districts typically have tight budget constraints, which impact their ability to hire a big enough cybersecurity team and pay for the necessary tools to protect school networks.

School districts can and should bring up defenses. It can be hard to get the funds for these endeavors, but it will be much more expensive after a security breach has happened.

To effectively prevent cyber attacks administrators first have to recognize the seriousness of the threat and prepare their employees accordingly.

With cyber attacks happening more often, schools should take as many precautions as they can in order to create the best learning environment possible for their students.

If your school is looking for ways to heighten its security, then check out these blog posts:

K-12 Districts Key To Privacy Protection Is Education And Awareness

3 School Security Musts For Summer Kick Off

Explaining Cybersecurity To Young Students

(Story via Govtech)