DailyPost 2118

Agility of the hackers have always held us in awe and surprise since the time they have been turning the world topsy turvy. Cyber security remains the world’s leading security challenge since 2014. The situation has only worsened and there doesn’t seem to a silver lining on the horizon. We are siloed by way of technology, sectors, size of organizations, nations, priorities but our enemies are the most focused brining in expertise to research and perseverance to sorting out the best potential exploit under one-fold. Both operationally and becoming a hard coded team for these nefarious acts they are one of its kind.

Ransomware has been plaguing the world with dire consequences, from critical infrastructure to single users in a variety of areas. Now it is hitting one sector particularly hard and the impact is being felt by everyone in the concerned geographies. It would not be long, when it hits the said sector in India also. The sector now being targeted in a big way is education and as the institutions are not equipped to deal with such threat, they end up paying ransoms. Such attacks on schools and universities are on the rise and victims are finding it difficult to recover after the networks have been hit.

As per the cyber researchers at Sophos, cyber criminals are going after education as it is perceived to be an easy but potentially lucrative target. Schools lack strong cyber security defenses, while being a goldmine of personal data they hold. Victims end up paying ransom for decryption key, the average ransom paid being $1.97 million. Targeting large schools’ districts are extremely lucrative. Because of the inability to operate when attacked, ransom is paid massively. The data can be stolen if the ransom is not paid, that is another threat they have to live with. Paying ransom encourages ransomware attacks but so it be.

As per Sophos, only 61% of data is restored, which means resources have to put for further repairing the network. While schools struggle for staff and budgets, with all that investing in good cyber security strategy, will help in warding off lots of these dangers, which can bring them to standstill, left with no choice but to pay ransom. Up to date patched management and multi-factor authentication would go a long way. Even if the cyber security tools are available, it is critical that the cyber security staff know to use them to be effective. Besides all these, dynamic monitoring with notifications of any aberration / discrepancy, from behavior, to tools usage, to activities should all come under one cyber security radar.

Sanjay Sahay

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