School has been different this year with the coronavirus pandemic shifting many students to remote learning, and cybercriminals are taking advantage of the security risks this poses. From New York to Chicago to Boston, K-12 schools across the country continue to fall victim to cyberattacks such as ransomware or phishing schemes at an alarming rate.

Cybercriminals view schools as lucrative targets due to their large digital footprints and the data. Lately, remote learning has amplified this problem, and attacks on IT network vulnerabilities, ‘Zoombombing’ and phishing emails with ransomware to infiltrate the student and schools’ data, continue to grow. According to K12cybersecure, there have been 1,062 incidents since 2016 with an increased amount coming from this year. Experts like MGT Consulting Group (MGT) and the FBI believe that security incidents will continue to increase and urge schools and students to take steps to protect themselves.

“Cybercriminals understand the limited IT resources school districts have and use this knowledge to aggressively target schools. Remote learning has only made the challenge for school IT departments that much larger,” said MGT Vice President, Cyber Security and Technology, Tony Martinez. “Building a cybersecurity program is a very important, and challenging, undertaking. We work continuously to detect, respond and manage cyber incidents for our clients so district IT departments can focus on the day-to-day.

The FBI has warned about an increase in ransomware attacks, which block access to a system or device using encryption. Cybercriminals access a school’s network to steal personal data and shut down the school’s network. Without paying a ransom or bringing in experts, schools are left without access to their data and at the mercy of cybercriminals.

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