Recent studies show that around 20% of all educational establishments have experienced some form of cyber attack, with many of these being targeted specifically because they’re looking for any opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities. Here are the top 8 reasons why hackers target schools:
- To steal sensitive data: Hackers know that schools keep a wealth of sensitive data on their students and staff members, including Social Security numbers, health records, and financial information. This data can be used for identity theft, fraud, and other malicious activities.
- To disrupt operations: By taking down a school’s website or email system, hackers can cause significant disruption to the day-to-day operations of the school. This can lead to a loss of productivity and, in some cases, may even prevent students from being able to access their online learning materials.
- To extort money: In some cases, hackers will demand a ransom from a school in exchange for not releasing sensitive data or disrupting operations. This can be a difficult decision for schools to make, as they may not be able to guarantee that the hacker will actually follow through on their promises.
- To damage reputation: Schools rely heavily on their reputation to attract students and staff members. A cyber attack can damage a school’s reputation and make it difficult for them to recover.
- To gain access to other systems: In some cases, hackers may target a school in order to gain access to other systems that are connected to the school’s network. This could give them access to confidential information or allow them to launch attacks against other organizations.
- To test their skills: Some hackers may target schools simply to test their skills and see if they can successfully exploit any vulnerabilities. This type of attack can be especially damaging as it may lead to the discovery of new vulnerabilities that can be exploited in future attacks.
- To make a political statement: In some cases, hackers may target a school in order to make a political statement or to support a cause. For example, hackers have been known to target schools that are involved in military research or that have connections to controversial figures.
- To carry out espionage: Schools may also be targeted by foreign governments or other organizations in order to gather intelligence or steal sensitive information. This type of attack can be very difficult to detect and can have serious consequences for the school.
Charter schools are especially vulnerable to attack because charter schools are public schools that are independently operated and funded. They typically have more flexibility than traditional public schools when it comes to curriculum, budgeting, and hiring. Many charter schools have a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, which can make them a prime target for hackers looking to gain access to cutting-edge technology.
Schools need to be aware of the risks they face and take steps to protect themselves from potential attacks. This includes implementing strong security measures, conducting regular security audits, and providing training for staff members on how to identify and respond to potential threats. Also hiring a reliable information technology support team can help mitigate many of these risks.
By taking these steps, schools can help to ensure that they are better prepared to defend against the growing threat of cyber attacks.