Over a thousand schools hit by ransomware in 2019

(Image credit: Future)

A new report from the security solutions provider Armor has revealed that 1,039 schools across the US have fallen victim to a ransomware attack in 2019.

Since January, 72 school districts have publicly reported falling victim to ransomware and 11 of these school districts had their systems affected by ransomware since the end of October, with 226 schools being directly affected as a result.

Armor's report shed further light on whether or not these school districts ended up paying the cybercriminals behind the attacks, saying:

"Of the 11 school districts hit in this last attack wave, only 1 has reported having paid the ransom, but did not disclose the sum (Port Neches-Groves), 3 reported having refused to pay (Wood County, Penn-Harris-Madison, Claremont) and 7 have not revealed whether they have paid the ransom or not."

Easy targets

Back in September, Armor reported that over 500 US schools were hit by ransomware since the beginning of the year. However, the number of affected schools more than doubled in under three months according to Armor's research.

Ransomware attacks can be devastating to schools according to Armor’s Head of the Threat Resistance Unit (TRU) research team, Chris Hinkley who explained why cybercriminals have begun to actively target the education sector, saying:

“The attackers know that the services these organizations provide are critical to their communities, and they also know that schools and municipalities are typically more vulnerable to security attacks because of their limited budgets and lack of IT staff. This combination can give the threat actors a tremendous advantage over their victims because they know these entities cannot afford to shut down and are often more likely to pay the ransom.” 

Across all industry sectors, Armor identified public ransomware attack reports from 269 organizations in the US since the beginning of the year. Municipalities were the biggest victim of ransomware attacks and they submitted 82 reports but the education sector wasn't far behind with 72 reports.

Via BleepingComputer

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.