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Expert warns US education sector to improve cybersecurity following malware attack

Expert warns US education sector to improve cybersecurity following malware attack

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An expert from Nominet has warned the US education sector needs to increase its cybersecurity measures following an attack on a school district in California.

Online classes at the Rialto Unified School District in California were suspended while officials investigated the nature of a malware attack.

A statement from the body instructed pupils who had assigned devices linked to the district’s server to cease using them.

The statement added: “Officials will soon begin the huge task of collecting school computer equipment from pupils and teachers “to make sure we keep everything secure.”

Cath Goulding, CISO at Nominet, said she was unsurprised to see that hackers had targeted the education sector.

“With remote learning increasing, and more reliance on IT infrastructure than ever before, it was only a matter of time until more schools made the criminals’ hit list. The FBI had previously issued a statement to schools warning of this risk. 

“The move to remote learning has happened at breakneck speed. Digital Transformation that would have usually taken months has happened in weeks and schools are most likely still grappling with the risks.

“Protecting the education sector will require collaboration between the schools themselves and the various layers of federal and state governments. There will be a degree of educating the educators on the cybersecurity threats they will face. 

“As school districts come to terms with remote learning practices, the government needs to ensure that there is a sufficient breadth of security, so that the smallest schools to the largest institutions will be protected from these attacks.

“This can be done by pooling information and resources so that the smaller institutions can benefit from a scale of know-how and defence that they would find difficult to match operating independently. 

“Much of this protection surrounds basic cyberhygiene, but it can appear a daunting task without tried and tested methods and tactics to implement across an organisation. The education sector is a vital part of any country and ensuring that it can continue to function in these times is vital.”

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