Over a thousand US schools hit by ransomware in 2019

The number of attacks more than doubled in the year’s final quarter.

Over a thousand US schools hit by ransomware in 2019

More than a thousand schools were hit by ransomware this year, with more than half of them reporting the incident in the final quarter of the year. This is according to cybersecurity solutions provider Armor, whose latest report states that 72 school districts and educational institutions reported being victims of a ransomware attack this year.

Since late October, 11 districts reported their systems assaulted, which means 226 schools were affected.

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“Of the 11 school districts hit in this last attack wave, only one has reported having paid the ransom, but did not disclose the sum (Port Neches-Groves), three reported having refused to pay (Wood County, Penn-Harris-Madison, Claremont) and seven have not revealed whether they have paid the ransom or not,” Armor’s report states.

The company’s previous report, which came out in September, said that some 500 schools were targeted by ransomware since January. That means that more than half of all of this year’s attacks happened in the final quarter of the year.

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Ransomware is a type of attack in which malware encrypts all the information on the affected machine and its network, and demands payment in bitcoin or other cryptocurrency in exchange for the decryption key.

Law enforcement agencies first urged organisations not to pay the ransom, but rather to keep an updated backup at all times, and educate their employees on the dangers of phishing and ransomware. However, lately the sentiment has changed and organisations are advised to assess the situation carefully and, if they so see fit, maybe even pay for the keys.

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