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Automated Response Systems Help Schools Combat Ransomware Attacks

by Jackie Davis

Colleges, universities, and even school districts have recently fallen prey to ransomware attacks that target valuable data. As the number of devices that connect to a school’s network increases, the vulnerability surface hackers can target also increases. With thousands of connected devices roaming around school campuses, it’s important for school information officers to take steps to prevent attacks and secure networks.

But how can schools secure their networks without breaking the budget?

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Sean Martinez, Technical Account Manager at SolarWinds, discussed how schools can secure networks, protect systems from ransomware attacks, and utilize best practices to keep cybersecurity manageable in a recent webinar.

“Ransomware is a multifaceted issue here,” said Martinez. “It was originally email or application download but now with IoT devices being able to easily plug into any port and upload a payload very easily,” attacks can be launched from just about anywhere. These stealthy attacks can create serious problems for schools if gone unnoticed, which is why an automated response system is vital.

Martinez explained that protecting networks has a lot of moving parts. From backups to risk analysis and staff training to incident response, automated systems follow cyber best practices and relieve some of the security burden from school employees.

School information officers can take a proactive approach to cybersecurity by familiarizing themselves with RMF, Risk Management Framework, a risked-based methodology that ensures systems meet compliance standards. While typically used in the government, Martinez explained the information is valuable to all sectors. “I always say you can take any of these standards and apply it to state and local education in anyone’s network,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is definitely securing their environment but also setting it up for better responsiveness.”

For schools to improve their security posture and protect against ransomware, Martinez says regular infrastructure inventory, identifying critical assets, and leveraging automated responses is a step towards secure data.

“A lot of these venerability’s occur off-hours and having basic automation responsiveness helps us to leverage the first few hours,” of an attack which is critical, he explained.

To learn more about how schools can protect systems from cyberattacks, click here.

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