Ransomware Attack In Baltimore County Servers Shuts Down Schools For Five Days
Ransomware attacks on school systems have aggravated in scope and severity across the country, with Baltimore Public Schools being the latest casualties. A ransomware attack, first discovered late Tuesday, forced the schools to suspend online learning for up to five days.
This is not the first time we’ve heard about a ransomware attack in Baltimore. The city was also hit in March 2018 and months later in May 2019. Both events resulted in millions of lost revenue and high recovery costs. School officials have since defined the recent one as a “catastrophic attack on our technology system.” Although it’s still unclear if any personal information was compromised, the attack directly impacted over 115,000 students and 7,300+ teachers.
So, What Actually Happened?
The school and local authorities have been reluctant to divulge how the attack occurred. It’s still unclear when it started. The first known incident was the school board video conference being abruptly cut off late last Tuesday. Later that day, at around 11.30 p.m., teachers began noticing glitches as they were entering grades.
Although there is no official confirmation, several teachers have affirmed that their files had a .ryuk extension through social media. Ryuk is a ransomware family notorious for attacking schools, hospitals, and other government facilities. However, the school system or local police have not come out to confirm or deny these allegations. It’s equally unclear if they communicated with the attackers, whether they were asked for ransom or not, and if they paid up or found their way around it.
However, one thing is unmistakably clear — organizations in Baltimore and surrounding areas like York and Gettysburg should up their cybersecurity games.
How Can A Ransomware Attack Affect Your Business?
Today, ransomware attackers do not just threaten to destroy your files if you don’t cooperate. They will intimidate you into paying up by threatening to reveal your data and those of your clients to the public. Doing so would expose you to several lawsuits, taint your public image, and cost you some of your loyal customers. You wouldn’t want your competitors to access your company secrets like plans and financial records in this digital age of information.
In short, no organization is ever ready enough for a ransomware attack. For small or medium-sized businesses, a ransomware attack will most likely be a business-ending event.
What Can You Do to Protect Your York or Gettysburg Business from a Ransomware Attack?
There’s no surefire protection against a cyberattack, but the following measures will go a long way in keeping your network safer:
- Invest In Spam Filtering: Most ransomware attacks are launched through malicious spam emails. A good email spam filter will help you identify messages from unknown sources that may be malware-infected.
- Deploy DNS Filtering Tools: These will prevent devices connected to your network from accessing threat sites.
- Backup Your Files: Make offline duplicates of your critical documents and data at least twice a day. So, you can sustain normal operations even if attackers have encrypted your files. This gives you higher bargaining power.
- Assess Your Networks Regularly: Correct any identified vulnerabilities immediately.
Ransomware is the most prevalent cyberattack vector. You don’t have to wait until you’re faced with choosing between paying hefty fines or losing your files. Leverage TREYSTA’s over 25+ years of experience in cybersecurity to keep your network safe from ransomware.