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Cyberattacks Devastate Many Smaller School Districts

In a middle school in Albuquerque, N.M., a cyberattack locked all staff out of their database, reports the Associated Press. Teachers and administrators could not access crucial information such as attendance records, lists of adults are authorized to pick up children and information detailing which students tested positive for COVID-19. The attack cancelled class for two days. Similar cyberattacks in other places show the increased risk faced by small districts with small IT budgets. COVID-19 and remote learning have made schools more dependent on technology, placing them at higher risk. While attacks on larger districts get more headlines, ransomware gangs tended to target smaller school districts in 2021 than in 2020, says Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft. He said that could indicate bigger districts are increasing their spending on cybersecurity while smaller districts, which have less money, remain more vulnerable.

The K12 Security Information Exchange reports over 1,200 cyber security incidents at public schools since 2016 and says most attacks are from Eastern Europe with safe harbor from western governments. Joe Biden signed the K-12 Cybersecurity Act in October which calls for federal guidance for protecting school's systems. New Mexico lawmakers approved $45 million to the state's education department to build a cyber security program by 2027.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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