Educational institutions in several states, including Henry County Schools in Georgia, are grappling with the escalating threat of ransomware attacks. In the case of Henry County Schools, suspicious activity affecting its network operations was detected in early November, prompting collaboration with law enforcement and cybersecurity specialists. The unauthorized access by hackers resulted in a ransomware incident, although crucial student and employee systems remained uncompromised. Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis has been providing updates on the situation, emphasizing the ongoing coordination with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
The holiday season has seen a surge in ransomware attacks on K-12 schools and colleges. In Bangor, Maine, the Hermon School Department fell victim to ransomware actors in early November, underscoring the widespread nature of these cyber threats. The attack on Hermon School Department revealed potential vulnerabilities, as cybersecurity experts noted the use of outdated software and a vulnerable instance of Apache ActiveMQ. Furthermore, federal agencies were alerted to a specific vulnerability, CVE-2023-46604, exploited by hackers associated with the HelloKitty ransomware, adding urgency to the need for cybersecurity measures in educational institutions.
Colleges, too, are not immune to these malicious activities. Taylor University in Indiana recently disclosed a ransomware attack that occurred in May, affecting over 2,200 students. The cyberattack, discovered in November, exposed personal information, financial account details, and card numbers, including PIN numbers. The incident highlights the persistence and evolving tactics of ransomware groups targeting educational institutions, with recorded cases reaching 246 in 2023, a notable increase from the previous year, according to threat intelligence analyst Allan Liska