Ransomware Attack Hits Local Schools

May 12, 2023

Ransomware. It’s a word that strikes fear into anyone that deals with computers and sensitive files on a daily basis. A form of malware, ransomware is typically delivered via a phishing email where the recipient opens a file they shouldn’t have, and the malware takes over. The victim is then given a way to restore their data…for a price. Usually, once files are encrypted, they cannot be restored without a key.In the case of two local schools in North Carolina, the hackers, claiming to be a “Ransomware Cult,” gained access to their entire network. They released highly sensitive information from the school’s system as proof that they were not joking, threatening to release more if the schools didn’t cooperate. There is no indication how the families of the leaked information have been affected, but one thing is clear: the hackers are looking to gain something from their efforts while causing chaos.Tom Blanchard, CEO of Sterling Technology Solutions, saw the Twitter posts where the information was leaked and was greatly concerned with what was there. Click on the video above to see what he had to say about the hack and the concerns behind it.“One thing that’s very clear in this hack is access to a server was achieved,” he said. “If a school gets hacked, parents are going to be concerned, teachers, students…It’s going to be on the news.”Why were schools targeted? Blanchard believes that was strategic. “They [the schools] probably don’t have the largest IT budget in the world, and that makes them more vulnerable to attacks like this.”How can you protect yourself from a ransomware attack? Start by making sure your operating system has the most current patches and is up to date. Refrain from installing software or giving it administrative access unless you know what the software does and can verify where it came from. Keep your antivirus software on your system current and whitelisting software to prevent unauthorized changes and application execution. Finally, frequently back up your files and keep a copy externally so you can restore your system if you are attacked.If you are concerned that you are vulnerable to malware, or if you have already been a victim of a malware attack, Sterling Technology Solutions can help. Contact them today for more information.