Rising Tide of Ransomware Hits Education Sector: Sophos Report Unveils Alarming Cybersecurity Trends

The education sector witnessed a concerning surge in ransomware attacks, with 79% of higher educational organizations and 80% of lower educational organizations experiencing incidents in 2022, according to Sophos’ “The State of Ransomware in Education 2023” report. Paying the ransom resulted in higher recovery costs and longer downtime, prompting the cybersecurity firm to recommend bolstering defensive shields and adopting MFA technology.

27 July 2023 – According to a new sectoral survey report released by Sophos, a prominent cybersecurity service provider, the education sector experienced a disturbing surge in ransomware attacks in 2022. Titled “The State of Ransomware in Education 2023,” the report highlights that both higher educational organizations and lower educational organizations reported the highest rates of attacks, with 79% and 80%, respectively, falling victim to ransomware.

The study further disclosed that a significant number of these institutions, comprising 56% of higher educational organizations and 47% of lower educational organizations, opted to pay the ransom to restore their systems. However, paying the ransom proved counterproductive, as it led to increased recovery costs and longer downtime compared to those who relied on backups.

One of the major contributing factors to the escalating ransomware incidents was the compromise of credentials, affecting 37% of higher educational organizations and 36% of lower educational organizations. The education sector faced a heightened risk in this regard due to the relatively lower adoption of multifactor authentication (MFA) technology.

Sophos recommends adopting robust security measures such as endpoint protection with strong anti-exploit capabilities, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to prevent credential abuse, and 24/7 threat detection and response. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of regular data backups, practicing data recovery, and maintaining up-to-date incident response plans to combat ransomware attacks effectively.

Author: Terry KS

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