Ransomware Focused on K12 and Government

While education has been spared many ransomware attacks, that could be changing.

September 24, 2016
Bill Fitzgerald Director, Privacy Initiative
Director, Privacy Initiative

CATEGORIES Privacy Evaluation Initiative

UPDATE 9/26/2016: Jim Siegl pointed out that ransomware in education has been on the rise for a while, and shared this resource (pdf download). It includes a background on ransomware, and some mitigation strategies. END UPDATE

While ransomware attacks have been on the rise, education has seen (fortunately) few attacks. However, as reported in Softpedia, that could be changing.

The focus on educational and government users attempts to take advantage of (among other things) weak or nonexistent disaster recovery strategies.

By going after government institutions, they might get lucky and infect a target that has failed to implement a proper backup procedure, effectively shutting down its system until a ransom has been paid. The chances of squeezing a ransom payment out of these targets are higher than with regular home users.

The attack has been delivered using bogus ticket confirmations, which in turn contain a link to a the ransomware. Now is the time to do two things:

  • Test your backup and disaster recovery strategy; and
  • Review good email and download habits with your colleagues. This will protect against phishing, social engineering, and ransomware attacks.

Image Credit: Cryptolocker Ransomware by Christiaan Colen, published under an Attribution Share-Alike license.

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