Education is top target for cyberattacks

teacher and students

The education sector has become one of the most sought after targets for cybercriminals, according to the latest report from Malwarebytes Labs.

In the first half of 2019, the top three largest categories of threats identified among education institutions' devices are adware (43 percent), Trojans (25 percent) and backdoors (three percent). However, ransomware dropped to less than one percent in this period -- though it was higher both before and after the study.

The Emotet, TrickBot and Trace Trojans have been particularly active in education, with the three representing nearly half of all Trojans detected (44 percent) and more than 11 percent of all compromises in the six month period.

"Emotet and Trickbot increased across every industry but grew at an accelerated pace in education," Wendy Zamora the editor in chief at Malwarebytes says. "I expect to see ransomware grow in the next school year. Cybercriminals in general are ramping up their efforts with ransomware and schools are an easy target."

The East Irondequoit Central School District, located in New York, is a prime example, having suffered a critical Emotet Trojan outbreak that a legacy endpoint security provider failed to stop. The Emotet Trojan ran rampant across the district's endpoints infecting 1,400 devices and impacting network operations across the district. It engaged Malwarebytes to isolate and clean up infected endpoints.

"Another thing that we've seen is that exploits are huge with schools," adds Zamora. "These are taking advantage of vulnerabilities in software and operating systems and infrastructure allowing ransomware to follow up behind. Education is an easy target thanks to limited budgets, most of schools’ funding goes to support the curriculum, so cybersecurity can be an after thought. On top of that the technological infrastructure can be legacy at best. Schools also store sensitive data on students and staff which is very valuable on the black market."

You can find out on the Malwarebytes blog.

Image credit: Goodluz/Shutterstock

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