The past couple of weeks, K-12 schools were hit hard with ransomware attacks. This week follows a tumultuous fall, full of cyber breaches and ransomware attacks that have hit schools across the U.S.
Huntsville City Schools in Alabama, which closed last week, reported that the district has made progress on resolving their cyberbreach, but said the investigation is still active while the district moves toward finding a solution and getting children back to school as soon as possible.
Baltimore schools, which closed last week due to a self-reported “catastrophic” ransomware attack, were able to resume online classes on Wednesday of this week, though many students and parents had to stand outside schools waiting to get “confidence checks” on their computers. Baltimore school administration created a new way for students to log on to the schools’ learning management system, Schoology and Google platforms.
Of course, these two examples are far from the only schools that have been hit with cyberbreaches over the past several months. Cyberattacks at the K-12 level have even garnered government attention. This week, Brandon Wales, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency testified before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee and he was asked what more the agency could do to help public school systems across the country defend themselves from cyberthreats, including data breaches and ransomware, which has disrupted in-person and virtual learning environments and delayed or cancelled classes in many cases.
“Ransomware is quickly becoming a national emergency,” Wales said during his opening statement. Wales said that CISA has placed a heightened focus on issues facing schools since the pandemic took hold.
“We have expanded the focus on K-12 from the beginning of the pandemic to help schools on how they can improve cybersecurity for their distance learning,” Wales told Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. “We need to arm them with the same resources, same information that are offered at no cost to states.”