Ransomware is Finding More Success in Education

ransomware education

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing malware threats and can cause major financial damages to any company that falls victim. Educational institutions have become a primary target for cybercriminals, and the threat continues to rise. Cybercriminals shut down important systems and can end up shutting schools and education facilities down for days and prevent teachers and students from gaining access to their assignments or lesson plans. More often than not, schools are paying astronomical recovery fees to release the data to restore their systems and recover data.

Why Ransomware Attacks Educational Institutions More Than Businesses

Because schools are more willing to pay the fees, cybercriminals have been more motivated to focus ransomware more on the school system. Education institutions house a large amount of personal data on their students, professors, and parents that are valuable to a hacker. If the school did not pay the ransom, hackers could sell the data on the black market for a sizable sum of money.

Schools are a goldmine for attackers as many schools lack strong cyber security to prevent these attacks from occurring. The recovery bill for ransomware for education is incredibly high. In comparison, higher education has spent 1.42 million to recover from ransomware attacks, whereas the global average is $1.4 million. 

While it’s never recommended that any institution pay out the ransomware, it’s no surprise that schools are more likely to pay. Schools rely entirely on their data, and if the network and allow records are suddenly made unavailable due to a ransomware attack, any action from within the school is impossible. 

Even though ransomware can halt school operations, paying the hackers is terrible. The data encrypted by hackers through ransomware is rarely fully recovered after an attack. The success ransomware has received encourages cybercriminals to continue attacking educational institutions.

Although ransomware is more common in educational institutions, it can happen to any industry or organization anytime. It’s important to take the ransomware risk seriously and ensure your business’s cyber security is consistently monitored for signs of a potential threat. 

Protecting your business from ransomware requires a dual approach. You need to secure your infrastructure with preventative measures and regular employee training on the importance of cybersecurity. Your IT team should proactively monitor your network to catch any incoming issues before they create a major problem. 

Wheelhouse IT can help you focus on your business while we manage your cyber security. You can rely on us to protect you against ransomware and other risks that threaten business operations. Learn more by contacting us at 954.474.2204. 

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3 Ways you Can Boost your Router’s Security

router security

Your wireless routers not only provide you with Wi-Fi but also give a lot of devices access to the rest of your network. So, securing your router is essential in protecting your personal and business data. Let’s take a look at a couple of best practices to strengthen your network security and keep your wireless internet protected.

Before diving into the list, we should clear up what your wireless internet router is actually like. Many people pay little to no attention to their router after setting up, besides the occasional unplugging and plugging back in when the Wi-Fi goes down. However, your router is actually its own computer with its own operating system. Because of that, they have their own vulnerabilities that most users are unaware of.

Unfortunately, most routers are not built with security at the forefront, and very few alert users when new firmware becomes available. If unchecked, this can lead to security vulnerabilities lasting longer than anyone would like, increasing the risk of data breaches.

So, what can you do to prevent this?

1. Update your Router’s Software and Check the Settings

Like any computing system that you use, your router runs software that allows it to function. So, as your router ages, you’ll have to update the firmware and software that the router uses to route wireless signals. Also, consider checking the following settings:

Network Name – Make it something unique that doesn’t allow hackers to easily identify your organization

Automatic Updates – You can turn on automatic firmware updates to maintain network security.

Enable WPA2 or WPA3 encryption – This ensures that only authorized users can access your wireless internet.

2. Disable Dangerous Accessibility Options

Unfortunately, sometimes the options that make our router easier to use also open it to network security breaches. Two accessibility options to look out for are the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Wi-Fi-protected Setup (WPS).

UPnP is the default setting on most routers but also leaves your wireless internet open to attack. It’s worth taking the time to change this setting to improve security.

WPS is an ease-of-use feature that allows devices to connect through a static eight-digit pin, even if the username and password for the network have been changed. The PIN is often even printed right on the router. This leaves it extremely vulnerable and should be disabled immediately. 

3. Set Up a Guest Wi-Fi Network

One of the best ways to maintain network security is by limiting the number of people that have access to it. You should only trust others with network access when absolutely necessary. A wonderful way to make this possible is by setting up a guest wireless internet network to offer visitors. Most commercial-grade routers and many personal routers have this function. You can even set the network to turn off after a certain amount of time, further limiting access.

If your business runs a lot of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, this guest network can save you from a number of security problems. Since IoT devices come with their own security pitfalls, connecting them to the guest network will keep your information safe.

Keeping your router and wireless internet secure can go a very long way in protecting your whole computing infrastructure. Give WheelHouse IT a call at 954.474.2204 today to learn more about network security for your business.

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