Cyberattack Cancels Classes for 31,000 Students in Iowa
The U.S. Education Sector Confronts Massive Ransomware Attacks Wave.
Des Moines Public School put all networked systems offline and canceled classes on January 10th due to an undefined cyberattack. More than 31,000 kids from preschool through high school in more than 60 schools, as well as the school’s 5000 staff members, had their courses suspended, except for athletics and activities.
The decision came as a response to ”unusual activity” detected on their network during the previous days.
Earlier this morning, DMPS was alerted to a cyber security incident on its technology network. As a preemptive measure the school district’s internet and network services were taken offline as the matter is currently being investigated and assessed.
Because many technology tools that support both classroom learning as well as the management and operation of the school district are not available at this time, the prudent decision is to close the district for the day.
Ransomware Attack Wave Hits U.S. Education Sector
Des Moines Public Schools are not the only educational target of threat actors in Iowa. Cedar Rapids Community School District, Davenport Community School District, and the Linn-Mar Community School District also suffered ransomware attacks in 2022.
Researchers claim 44 universities and colleges, plus 45 school districts in the U. S. were hit with ransomware during the past year. For at least 58 of the attacks, cybercriminals were reported going for the victims` data, according to Bleepingcomputer.com.
One of the most impactful attacks was performed by the Vice Society ransomware gang on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the U.S.`s second-largest school district, which was a victim of data leakage.
Cyberattacks Consequences on the U.S. Education Sector
In a combined advisory released last year, the FBI, CISA, and MS-ISAC warned that Vice Society was increasingly focusing on American school districts. Schools that were targeted by threat actors experienced
- Stolen data for students and staff
- Data access restrictions
- Network usage limitations
- Delayed exams
- Canceled school days
In order to keep up with the unprecedented surge of ransomware assaults, several U.S. senators encouraged the Departments of Education and Homeland Security to strengthen cybersecurity safeguards at K–12 schools nationwide, in 2021.
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