Survey: Cyberattacks targeting schools more often

Jackson County Intermediate School District was hacked Sunday
“The objective from those cybercrime groups is to stop the operations of any public, private or university institution,”
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 6:18 PM EST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - The Jackson County Intermediate School District is working to get its technology back online following a cyberattack.

More: School closings

Many schools in Jackson and Hillsdale Counties were closed Monday and Tuesday because of a ransomware attack at the intermediate school district. They are telling students to not use their school-issued devices.

The Jackson County Intermediate School District provides technology services to schools in both counties.

“The objective from those cybercrime groups is to stop the operations of any public, private or university institution,” said Marco Rivero, cybersecurity researcher.

Researchers at Kasperksy, a global cybersecurity company, said schools are targeted often. In a survey in October, a fifth of parents told Kasperksy their child’s school was hacked in just this school year.

Most of the time hackers get in through a bad link in an email, which can be problematic with so many kids using devices for school work.

“The level of maturity and the level of awareness those kids have in elementary school should be less compared to someone going to college,” said Rivero.

Researchers said parents can help prevent these kinds of attacks.

“Parents need to really help their kids understand and, you know, who they can talk with and who they can’t. They have to have some sort of interaction with children and guidance for kids about, you know, what is happening with their passwords,” said Kurt Baumgartner, cybersecurity researcher.

Baumgartner added schools are also responsible for protecting data.

“Parents need to really put pressure on teachers and administrators, to maintain the security of these networks, to be making better choices about keeping their networks updated,” said Baumgartner.

The Kasperksy survey said on average it took about three days for schools to reopen after a cyberattack.

Researchers said now is a good time to change all of your child’s passwords and make sure they are complicated with at least 18 characters.

They also recommend getting kids to use two-step authentication at a young age.

Related: Threats to schools across US may be coming from overseas

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