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What is Ransomware, and how can I protect my school?

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What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that encrypts a school’s files, systems, or network and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically delivered through phishing emails or infected websites. They can have serious consequences for a school, including the loss or theft of sensitive data, the disruption of day-to-day operations, and the loss of productivity.

When a school’s files are encrypted, they are typically unable to access or use them until the ransom is paid and the decryption key is provided. The attackers usually demand payment in a cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to make it difficult to trace the transaction.

Why schools should care?

Ransomware attacks can be particularly damaging because they often target important files and systems, such as databases and servers. The loss or damage of these files and systems can have significant consequences, including the loss of revenue, the loss of trust in the school, and damage to the school’s reputation.

What should my school do to protect itself against ransomware?

To protect against these attacks, schools should implement a robust cybersecurity strategy that includes the following key elements:

  1. Antivirus and anti-malware software: Antivirus and anti-malware software is designed to detect and prevent the installation of ransomware on a computer or network. These programs can scan files and websites for signs of ransomware and block or remove any detected ransomware.
  2. Firewalls: Firewalls are a key component of any cybersecurity strategy. They act as a barrier between a business’s computer network and the wider internet and can help to prevent the spread of ransomware within the network.
  3. Regular software updates: Many ransomware attacks exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. To protect against these attacks, businesses should ensure that all software and systems are updated with the latest security patches and updates.
  4. Cyber Security Training: Cybersecurity is not just a technical issue; it is also a human issue. Employees can play a critical role in protecting against ransomware by following safe computing practices, such as avoiding suspicious emails and websites and reporting any security incidents to the appropriate persons.
  5. Regular backups: Regular backups are an essential part of any cybersecurity strategy. By regularly backing up data to a secure location, schools can ensure they have a copy of their important files and records that can be recovered during a ransomware attack.

Overall, ransomware is a serious threat to any school, but with some sensible strategies, the likelihood of falling victim to one can be reduced.

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