Ransomware attacks have been on the rise in recent years as large institutions such as city councils and hospitals have been targeted by scammers seeking ransom for the release of critical institutional information and data. Unfortunately, another ransomware attack has just hit every school in Los Angeles. Here is everything you need to know about the attack as well as some broader information about Ransomware attacks in general.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which is one of the largest school districts in the US, encompassing over 600,000 students and 26,000 teachers has reported that it has been hit by a ransomware attack. The attack coincides with the beginning of the new school year.
According to the LAUSD press release announcing the news of the attack:
“Los Angeles Unified detected unusual activity in its Information Technology systems over the weekend, which after initial review, can be confirmed as an external cyber attack on our Information Technology assets. Since the identification of the incident, which is likely criminal in nature, we continue to assess the situation with law enforcement agencies.”
The press release goes on to say that the school district has an emergency plan of action for securing the continuity of learning for students across the areas and that certain sensitive aspects of the school district’s data infrastructure such as employee healthcare and payroll details have not been impacted.
Unfortunately, according to cybersecurity specialists at Avast who have recently published an in-depth report into ransomware attacks, these types of targeted and higher-value ransomware demands form a part of almost limitless demand for targeted ransomware coupled with “more effective ways to deliver their payloads, encrypt data, receive payments, and pressure victims.”
The report makes it clear that the blame for these types of attack does not fall solely onto those managing the school districts but also falls on policymakers too. The report states that:
“It is imperative that policymakers measure success against targeted ransomware in terms of the overall volume of ransomware payments, not just the absence of attacks on high-risk entities. It is time to start investing in a more secure future.”
On a personal level, however, Avast recommends taking three steps to protect yourself and your institution from a ransomware attack. Keep your systems updated, invest in and make use of reliable security software and ma regularly back up all your files. We have also put together a guide to help protect yourself against ransomware on your Android phone too.