Ransomware presents an under-the-radar threat to schools. Here are 5 things you need to know about it and how you can prevent an attack.

This year, we learnt that hackers used Ransomware to encrypt files at a Dorset school, when a member of staff mistakenly opened an email containing a virus. Ransomware is an increasing cyber security threat that poses a real risk to schools that don’t have the appropriate defences. Here we share five things you need to know about Ransomware and steps you can take to prevent an attack.

1. A ransomware attack results in a user’s computer being held hostage. The attacker can threaten to publish the victim’s data or block access until the ransom is paid. The attacks are typically carried out by a Trojan, a type of malware, which is disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. This is known as a phishing attack.

2. Ransom payments are made via any type of virtual currency. Often the Ransomware is accompanied by instructions on how to purchase the currency, however it is advised not to pay the Ransom as this fuels the cyberattack infrastructure.

3. From a technical point of view Ransomware is difficult to detect because it is constantly changing. Offenders are continually testing new Ransomware against the world’s top security vendors using Exploit Kits to look for vulnerabilities in users’ systems.

4. Schools Broadband helps customers to protect their networks using world-leading technology from Fortinet, which works to block new Exploit Kits every day. Our Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) safeguards customer networks from known and unknown threats, protecting applications from external and internal attacks using automatic, real-time updates. You can also help to prevent such attacks, by advising staff not to open unsolicited emails, attachments or SMS messages.

5. Given the increase in Ransomware, it’s also important to have extra Endpoint Protection for desktops, laptops, tablets and mobiles, to safeguard any vulnerable access points to your network. This strengthens the security of applications such as web browsers, PDF readers, email clients or MS office components which are commonly exploited.

If you require assistance in protecting your school against Ransomware or implementing Endpoint Protection, speak to a member of the Schools Broadband team today, we’re happy to help. Phone 01133 222 333, or email info@schoolsbroadband.co.uk.

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