The Jefferson County Schools system has announced that it was the victim of a ransomware attack over spring break. The school district released a statement saying that their technology team took immediate steps to stop the attack and notify the necessary authorities.
The statement said that preliminary investigations have not revealed any evidence of a breach of sensitive personally identifiable information, but the investigation will continue for the possibility of any other compromised data. Cybersecurity experts and law enforcement officials will assist the school district.
The school district said that they utilize multiple security protocols including filtering, firewalls, and antivirus systems. As a precaution, all network systems have been taken down to investigate thoroughly. These networks will be reconnected once all traces of malware are gone.
How Schools Can Prevent Ransomware Attacks
"Ransomware attacks on schools can be incredibly damaging," says Chris Close, a cybersecurity expert with Cyber Sleuth Security’s Brooklyn office. "But there are steps schools can take to protect themselves."
When asked about the most important step schools can take, Close said, "The first step is to make sure all software is kept up to date. Schools should also ensure their network and systems are secure and that passwords are changed regularly."
Close also recommends that schools educate their staff and students on the dangers of ransomware. "It's important that everyone is aware of the risks associated with ransomware and how to spot a potential attack. This can go a long way in preventing attacks from happening in the first place."
Finally, Close suggests that schools have a plan in place in the event of an attack. "Having a plan of action to follow can help minimize the damage caused by a ransomware attack. Schools should also be sure to back up their data in a secure offsite location so it can be recovered in the event of an attack."