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Why Are Colleges and Universities in the United States Susceptible to Ransomware?

Ransomware is being used by cybercriminals to assault schools and universities in the United States. They don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

The impact of ransomware in the school industry in 2021 was emphasized in an impartial study of 499 IT decision-makers performed by cybersecurity software company Sophos. The following are some of the survey’s key findings:

In the last 12 months, ransomware has infected 44% of businesses, according to iQuanti Incorporation.

The company stated in a press statement released today said that Cybercriminals encrypted data in 58 percent of ransomware victims’ firms.
The average ransom paid by educational institutions was $112,435.
In the education sector, the average cost of resolving a ransomware attack was $2.73 million.

Ransomware assaults must be considered by college and university officials, as well as the impact on their schools, teachers, students, and alumni. To do so, it’s important to understand why cybercriminals target higher education institutions with ransomware assaults. Administrators at colleges and universities can use this information to identify the best course of action in the event of a ransomware attack or other cyber threat.

4 Reasons Why Cybercriminals Target Colleges and Universities in the United States

1. Access to a wealth of personally identifiable information is quick and easy (PII).

Social security numbers, credit histories, and a plethora of employee and alumni data are among the PII that colleges and universities manage. Cybercriminals can use ransomware to break into college and university systems that hold and manage personal information. After breaking into one of these systems, fraudsters can rapidly and easily gain access to PII and utilize it for identity theft and other harmful purposes.

2. A Wide Range of Devices are Used by Faculty, Students, and Others.

Many applications and systems are in place in a typical college or university. Faculty, students, and a variety of others use these programs and platforms. However, all it takes is one person to unintentionally download a malicious file to begin a ransomware attack throughout a university’s network. Once the ransomware attack is launched, thieves may be able to infect thousands of devices in a matter of minutes.

3. Security Tools in Colleges and Universities are Inadequate.

Many schools and universities have made cybersecurity investments. Keeping all apps and systems up to date, on the other hand, might be difficult for higher education institutions. Cybercriminals might scour the internet looking for security flaws in higher education institutions. They can use one of these flaws to launch a ransomware attack if they uncover one.

4. There is no cyber-awareness training available.

Faculty, students, and others can benefit from cybersecurity awareness training by being informed about cyber hazards. However, many schools and universities do not offer, much less require, cybersecurity awareness courses. As a result, many schools miss out on opportunities to raise awareness about cyber risks in their communities. Worse worse, they may unknowingly assist cybercriminals in successfully launching ransomware assaults.

How Can Colleges and Universities in the United States Protect Against Ransomware Attacks?

You can’t stop cybercriminals from attempting to attack your institution or university with ransomware. There are, however, a number of things you can do to defend yourself from ransomware attacks, including:

Faculty, students, and others should be required to change their login credentials on a frequent basis.
Make use of current security software and make sure it’s installed on all of your college and university equipment.
For all college and university accounts, implement two-factor authentication, which requires multiple kinds of verification to verify a user’s identity.
All important papers and files should be backed up and stored offline.
Faculty, students, and others should receive cybersecurity awareness training.

To avoid ransomware attacks, be proactive. You can ensure that your institution or university is safe from ransomware attacks and other cyber risks by doing so.

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