The fall semester is fast approaching at our nation’s colleges and universities.

This was already going to be a semester unlike any other with all the concerns and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19; the last thing these institutions of higher learning need is another headache.

Why, hello, ransomware – somebody get the aspirin.

Cybercriminals – No COVID Compassion

Sleazeball hackers are putting their hours of quarantine to good use by going after colleges, now that municipalities and other public sector entities have started to step up their security protocols.

Last year 89 U.S. universities, colleges and school districts became victims of such attacks. That number figures to be even higher this year – among those already hit were Michigan State and the University of Illinois.

In June, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) was infiltrated with NetWalker malware to encrypt data on the servers of its school of medicine. Access to the system would only be restored if a cryptocurrency ransom were paid.

The “pay or don’t pay” debate rages on, but most victims figure it’s worth the expense. The officials of UCSF received the key to decrypt its own files after paying a little more than $1.1 million, which the NetWalker perps probably spent on Star Wars action figures. Losers.

But at least they were somewhat honest thieves – by some estimates up to 75% of organizations that pay the ransom still don’t get their access to data returned.

Why Colleges?

They’re easy targets. That’s the short answer. Plus, as with government organizations and courts and banks, they collect sensitive information on thousands of people, as well as intellectual property data.

All good hackers need are emails for administrators and faculty, which are easily found on school websites.  A cleverly worded phishing email that looks legit generates a click on a link, and now Mr. I’m-too-lazy-to-get-a-real-job is inside the system, ready to shut it down.

What type of security do college software systems use? Sometimes it’s outdated. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Is There an Answer?

Yes, professor, there is an answer. Start by downloading our free whitepaper. This document offers specific steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a ransomware attack.

360Civic also provides a Ransomware Protection Plan that secures your systems through a number of effective, real-world tested programs that fend off ransomware attacks. These best practices measures were developed in part by cybersecurity experts who have worked with the FBI’s Infrastructure Liaison Officer (ILO) program, which specializes in cyber counter intelligence operations.

You’ve got enough to deal with this semester – let us deal with the deadbeats trying to infiltrate your networks.

Ron Zayas

CEO & Chief Strategist

Ron brings decades of expertise in marketing, advertising and e-commerce strategies to 360Civic. There is not one aspect of any client project that is not enhanced through his experience, insight, and... Read more

Get great ideas and the latest trends in technology in the public sector.

Signup for our free 360Civic newsletter