How Schools Should React After a Cyber Attack

When schools have a sincere understanding of cyber attacks, they are empowered to take the proper steps to add security for an improved approach to…

When schools have a sincere understanding of cyber attacks, they are empowered to take the proper steps to add security for an improved approach to preventing future threats.  

As soon as an attack is identified, districts act to stop it and minimize damage. However, many cyber criminals still get through the protective layers and harvest valuable data. Regardless, the incident needs to be reported.  

However, many schools don’t report attacks for fear of embarrassment and loss of community trust. Or worse, schools and their staff haven’t been trained to deal with these situations. The U.K. is one region of the world that is still falling behind in cybersecurity training. As of last summer, 62% of U.K. schools had not received cybersecurity training. For attackers, schools have incredibly valuable data and are seen as easy targets due to: 

  • Lack of security tools and solutions 
  • Ransoms are being paid 
  • Email addresses ending in .edu offer credibility when phishing 
  • Using new, untried technology 

Reporting a School Cyber Attack 

Everyone, especially where safeguarding children is concerned, should receive an induction to cybersecurity and reporting guidance. This includes who the incidents should be reported to and how. In most cases, this person is the district or school I.T. manager. Their specialist team is expected to know how to preserve sensitive data and the best way to minimize damage. They are also the first port of call when an attack happens and know which external agency needs to be contacted.   

Law enforcement should be notified whenever personal information is compromised. Formal reports can be made to the country’s protection agency. Here are just a few and their appropriate reporting offices: 

The United States 

  • U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)  
  • FBI, via a Field Office Cyber Task Force 
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center 
  • National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force ([email protected]) 
  • National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center ([email protected]) 

The United Kingdom 


Time to Recover from a Ransomware Attack Incident 

Understanding and recovery need to happen as soon as the threat is contained. Response teams should conduct a post-attack review or lessons-learned meeting after an event. This is where they can capture information from the incident and make appropriate revisions to current practices. They should be equipped to identify who’s been impacted, what caused the attack, and the severity of the damage.  

There is always the possibility the attack came from within the school. This can be a student who unintentionally accessed malicious sites and created a vulnerability. Getting to the source, reviewing current policies and implementing new rules where needed is paramount to network protection. 

Finally, assessing how the technology was impacted and addressing any issues will cement future defenses. Districts or schools may have a solution that is not robust enough to handle the level of protection you now need. 

Active Network Monitoring & Multi-Layer Threat Protection Will Help Protect Your School Networks 

Blocking suspicious apps and URLs and having real-time visibility into students’ web use and all web traffic will also help prevent ransomware. Having a live feed of your network’s activity provides granularity and can help K-12 IT staff instantly identify suspicious network activity. More importantly, you can respond quickly to head-off attacks in progress. 

Combining multi-layer threat protection with active network monitoring provides multiple defenses against ransomware and other attacks. Impero’s ContentKeeper full-featured web filtering and security solution offers both within a single platform. In addition, it supports all devices and web browsers, playing a critical role in helping districts protect their networks from ransomware and other cyber threats. 

If you want to learn more about how combining Impero ContentKeeper and our complimentary products can be the core of your Defense-in-Depth strategy, book a demo today.  

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