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Ransomware and Cloud Listed as Top Threats Impacting Education Organizations

by Jackie Davis

With schools shifting to remote learning because of COVID-19 and tapping into networks, apps, and systems from a variety of places, security is more important than ever. Malicious payloads, ransomware, and “living-off-the-land” attacks are compromising security and giving bad actors access to valuable data. As education workers access technology via the cloud and mobile solutions, the global attack surface is expanding giving actors more opportunities to gain access to data and technologies.

According to the 2020 Blackberry Cylance Threat Report, technology-software organizations were the top ransomware target, the victim of 26 percent of attacks. With attacks focused on leveraging valuable data and taking down systems to do it, agencies must ensure that access to their network environment is defended – achievable through Zero Trust.

Download the Report

“For [the USDA], the driver becomes ‘how do I make sure that the data that I’m providing is, in fact, trusted?’ Have I classified my data properly, so that those who need access to that data have it relatively available?’, and then, of course, the general principles of cybersecurity still apply,” said USDA CISO Venice Goodwine.

The report outlines top threats, trends in cyber challenges, and best practices to protect organizations from these bad actors. Ransomware, which continues to be an issue for organizations, is evolving to include ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) where ransomware developers partner with Trojan developers to access data prior to encryption which is used to further extort targets.

According to the experts at Blackberry Cylance, organizations must recognize that well-organized and technically proficient threat actor groups can all-too-easily exploit glaring holes in their security fabric. To protect themselves they must move swiftly to replace reactive signature-based tools with proactive endpoint security solutions that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to stop ransomware from compromising their data.

Increased data loss from misconfigured cloud resources also increased in 2019. There were at least three reports of exposures caused by unsecured databases and servers each month, on average, leading to exposure of over seven billion records. As agencies continue the IT modernization journey, the cloud is becoming increasingly utilized – highlighting the need for a balance of security and software-defined infrastructure management.

As bad actors continue to infiltrate systems and environments, cyber leaders must look to technology, best practices, and education to secure data. Organizations must recognize that a stand pat attitude towards cybersecurity is no longer viable. A more comprehensive and nuanced approach to cyber risk management will be needed if they hope to survive, explained the experts at Blackberry Cylance.

Read the report here.


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