Over 1000 US Schools Hit by Ransomware in 2019

Over 1000 US Schools Hit by Ransomware in 2019

Over 1000 US schools have now been affected by ransomware so far this year, according to new data from Armor.

The security vendor claimed to have discovered 11 new school districts comprised of 226 schools that have been compromised by the malware since late October.

That brings the total number of affected school districts to 72 for the year, impacting an estimated 1039 schools nationwide.

Chris Hinkley, head of Armor’s threat resistance unit (TRU), said the attackers are deliberately targeting organizations that store sensitive data and run critical services.

“The attackers know that the services these organizations provide are critical to their communities, and they also know that schools and municipalities are typically more vulnerable to security attacks because of their limited budgets and lack of IT staff,” he said.

“This combination can give the threat actors a tremendous advantage over their victims because they know these entities cannot afford to shut down and are often more likely to pay the ransom.”

Fortunately, of the 11 districts caught in the latest round of ransomware attacks, only one is confirmed to have paid the ransom.

Earlier this week Microsoft urged customers not to pay the cyber-criminals.

“We never encourage a ransomware victim to pay any form of ransom demand. Paying a ransom is often expensive, dangerous, and only refuels the attackers’ capacity to continue their operations; bottom line, this equates to a proverbial pat on the back for the attackers,” argued Ola Peters, senior cybersecurity consultant at the firm’s Detection and Response Team (DART).

“The most important thing to note is that paying cyber-criminals to get a ransomware decryption key provides no guarantee that your encrypted data will be restored.”

The bad news for US organizations doesn’t end with school districts. According to Armor, 82 municipalities and 44 healthcare organizations have also been hit with ransomware this year.

The figures from Emisoft are even more stark: 103 municipalities and 759 healthcare providers, as well as 1224 schools may have been impacted by ransomware so far this year.

Source: Information Security Magazine