close
close

Double ransomware attacks could paralyze primary and secondary schools

Ransomware attacks just got worse. Picture this: A school gets hit by ransomware and tries desperately to recover. Then it happens again, often with a different malware variant. Welcome to the world of dual ransomware attacks.

Here are five things elementary and secondary school IT professionals should know about dual ransomware attacks:

1. Why are criminals increasingly turning to ransomware?

Dual ransomware is all about influence and psychological pressure. Think of it as a cybercriminal’s double strike. Attackers know that after the first strike, school targets may be down and desperate. With a second attack, the pressure to pay quickly increases. Scaling a ransomware attack could mean a big win for the criminals.

Click on the banner to access Zero Trust guidelines and resources for K12 organizations.

2. How can schools protect themselves from dual ransomware?

While the basics of strong cyber hygiene still apply, the FBI stresses that certain tactics are especially important in the face of dual attacks. These include network segmentation (to limit the spread of ransomware), patching (to close vulnerabilities) and the least privilege approach (to give administrators only the data they need to do their jobs).

DISCOVER: Get help strengthening your cybersecurity with managed patching services.

3. What special considerations should schools take into account?

Due to the sensitive nature of the data and services processed in elementary and secondary schools, dual ransomware attacks pose an increased risk. Attacks that disrupt transportation services, classes, and emergency response can put students at risk and undermine trust in schools. The FBI warns of attackers who not only encrypt files but also steal data as leverage. Exposed student data is a nightmare scenario.

READ MORE: How to improve your school’s safety this year.

4. What are the hidden costs of ransomware attacks?

Duplicate ransomware attacks can cause lasting damage far beyond the ransom amount. When systems grind to a halt, services shut down, and school operations are paralyzed, districts can suffer direct financial and systemic consequences. In the worst-case scenario, schools could face a new “data wiper” malware designed for maximum disruption, the FBI warns. These attacks can strain IT teams and destroy morale in a school district.

5. What else does the FBI say about dual ransomware attacks?

The FBI warns that attackers have added code to known data-stealing tools to avoid detection. Additionally, malware that contains data erasers can go undetected for a period of time. The agency advises schools to keep offline data backups and encrypt them, and to remain vigilant for suspicious activity.