DDoS attacks a growing but preventable threat for K-12

Dive Brief:

  • DDoS, or denial of service, attacks are a growing threat for school districts and have crippled quite a few in the past year, bringing down internet services at crucial times. 
  • Districts are relying on new methods to halt such attacks, including better firewall protections, new networking tools, and better network design. Utah recently invested in a new system for its private cloud, called Unicast Reverse-Path Forwarding, which blocks traffic attacks while allowing legitimate web traffic to continue uninterrupted. 
  • There are now numerous types of DDoS attacks, according to EdTech magazine, including volumetric attacks and those that specifically target firewalls or weak spots in applications.

Dive Insight:

DDoS attacks aren't the only cybersecurity issue to threaten K-12 districts in recent years. According to one report, education is now the most targeted sector for ransomware attacks, beating out healthcare. Making things more difficult for districts is the fact that computers, server use, operating systems, and patching can vary by school, making it difficult to coordinate efforts to guard against such attacks.

Districts have responded to ransomware attacks in various ways, both by paying off the ransom (usually in untraceable bitcoin) or opting to wipe servers and rely on backups instead.

In either case, such attacks can be incredibly disruptive, and experts suggest taking a proactive approach to ransomware threats by educating staff on phishing scams, identifying weak links in networks, and keeping protocols in place to ensure reliable backups exist in case of attack.

Filed Under: K12
Top image credit: Wikimedia Commons