Parents and students were recently alerted to a cyber incident at a school in Plymouth. The school had been breached by a group of hackers using a ransomware attack which prevented staff from accessing school files unless a ransom was paid.
This attack was by malware experts who exploited a small hole in the school’s security during the summer months. This was a systematic criminal ransomware attack on a school network.
The school was quick to react and their IT team isolated the area of the network which was under attack. However, this did not stop the school losing data; it merely minimised the loss of information.
While no financial information or personal details were lost, staff and student documents, including GCSE and A-level course information, saved on the school network after May 1, 2019, were no longer accessible. Anything saved solely on the school network had been lost.
The ransomware didn’t affect any student passwords, but all the passwords were reset across the entire network as a matter of precaution and students were prompted to change their details when they arrived back at school.
Devon and Cornwall Police and national cyber agents have been alerted and students and staff have been advised to report any and every IT issue. Meanwhile, the school IT team has begun the process of upgrading the network, which will be time consuming due to the size of the school.
Recent research shows that one in five UK schools and colleges are being targeted by hackers as they see them as soft targets. With budgets being squeezed and schools hanging onto their IT and communications assets, I guess it’s not surprising to see that security has suffered.
If there was ever a time to review and update IT security at schools, it’s now!
For instance, with Windows 7 going end of life in January 2020, schools should be moving to Windows 10 to ensure security of their network. With more cloud security, web filtering and endpoint protection available schools should be just as protected as any other business to ensure they protect their students.
To find out more about our security and web filtering solutions, please contact me directly.