A group of hackers called NetWalker attacked the networks of three American Universities in order to infect the infrastructure with a cryptographic virus and extort a ransom in bitcoins.
The attackers entered the computer networks of the University of California in San Francisco, the University of Michigan in East Lansing and Columbia College in Chicago. Hackers said they were able to obtain important data, such as students ‘ names, social security numbers and financial information. If universities don’t pay the ransom, hackers will publish the stolen data.
According to Emsisoft analyst Brett Callow, ransomware attacks on educational institutions are ” prohibitively destructive and expensive problem.” According to Emsisoft, in 2019, at least 89 universities, colleges and schools were attacked by such viruses. The trend continues in 2020 – at least 30 educational institutions have been attacked so far.
Kallaur stressed that computer specialists working in educational institutions need to maintain network security, update systems in a timely manner, and filter email. He advised disabling the PowerShell scripting language system and using “sandbox” to run files. A computer security specialist stated:
“Every time attackers get paid, they become even more motivated and get new resources. The only way to fight this is to cut them off from funding, which means that organizations must ensure the security of their computer systems so that they do not have to pay a ransom.”
Verizon recently reported that about 80% of cyber attacks on educational services in 2020 were carried out using ransomware viruses.