Ransomware a form of software specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. This malicious software then encrypts users’ files or locks their operating systems, rendering them unusable until a ransom is paid. Cyber criminals then demand large sums of money in exchange for decryption and restored access.
Public schools and universities are becoming prime targets of large-scale ransomware attacks.
Over 1500 schools, colleges, and universities were impacted in 2020 with California schools and universities being impacted more severely than any other state.
UC San Francisco was forced to pay $1.14 million to a cyber-criminal gang in June 2020.
According to Palo Alto Networks, the average ransom demand rose 144% in 2021 to $2.2 million, while the number of victims whose data was leaked grew by 85% in 2021, both new record highs.
- Update software and operating systems with the latest patches. Outdated applications and operating systems are the targets of most attacks.
- Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails.
- Back up data regularly. Use cloud storage where possible to manage offline backups.
- Follow safe practices when using devices that connect to the Internet.
- Delete suspicious e-mails. Deals that sound too good to be true are probably malicious.
- Use e-mail filtering options whenever possible. E-mail or spam filtering can stop a malicious message from reaching your inbox.