CISA and FBI Warn of Rise in Ransomware Attacks Targeting K-12 Schools

In a joint security alert published this week, the US Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned about increased cyber-attacks targeting the US K-12 educational sector, often leading to ransomware attacks, the theft of data, and the disruption of distance learning services. From a report: “As of December 2020, the FBI, CISA, and MS-ISAC continue to receive reports from K-12 educational institutions about the disruption of distance learning efforts by cyber actors,” the alert reads. “Cyber actors likely view schools as targets of opportunity, and these types of attacks are expected to continue through the 2020/2021 academic year,” it added.

But of all the attacks plaguing the K-12 sector (kindergarten through twelfth-grade schools), ransomware has been a particularly aggressive threat this year, CISA and the FBI said. “According to MS-ISAC data, the percentage of reported ransomware incidents against K-12 schools increased at the beginning of the 2020 school year,” the two agencies said. “In August and September, 57% of ransomware incidents reported to the MS-ISAC involved K-12 schools, compared to 28% of all reported ransomware incidents from January through July,” they said.