Universities have become a popular target for ransomware attacks, so much so that earlier this year, three universities fell victim to a ransomware attack in the same week. With the urgency of shifting to online learning, many education institutions have found themselves extremely ill prepared in the face of cyber attacks. Distance learning has massively opened up a huge attack surface - we are using unhardened collaboration applications like Zoom and at the same time, machines are now remote, removing control over updating and patching from the organization, says Andrew Homer, vice president of security strategy at Morphisec. Yet cybercriminals aren’t getting any slower at deploying attacks, and higher education has become one of the most targeted industries for ransomware attacks over the last few years.
Security experts are deeply worried that while cyber attackers are upping their game, and online education infrastructures are making students and institution servers even more vulnerable, many K-12 and higher education institutions are not rethinking their security measures, nor adding additional layers of protection. Sometimes, organizations and institutions do not realize the extent of damages that a cyber attack, especially a ransomware attack, can create. Therefore, it becomes difficult to recognize the potential cost of such an attack, creating a lack of awareness that can undermine institutions efforts to get needed security upgrades. Paying a ransom can take a hefty toll on an institution’s monetary resources, yet the damages caused by the attack usually multiply the overall attack cost. After paying the cyberattackers’ asking price, such as 1.17 million paid in the case of the UCSF ransomware attack, or almost 0.5M paid by the University of Utah, education institutions still have to deal with damages such as extra classes to make up for those lost during the attack, IT time and costs, remediation costs, data loss, and more.
The ThreatSTOP security research team is constantly researching new ransomware variants, ensuring that our solutions provide reliable protection against ransomware attacks. As part of our research, we’ve created an extensive ransomware guide for education institutions that you can use to:
- Learn about ransomware types and attack vectors
- Review variant history and evolution
- Understand ransomware trends
- Know how to protect yourself from ransomware
View ThreatSTOP's Ultimate Ransomware Guide for Higher Education: