Experts notice uptick in data breaches, ransomware attacks within schools in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The education industry is a target for cyber security attacks. Indiana school districts and universities are constantly detecting attackers trying to get your personal information.

Last week, a school district in northern Indiana had to restore its servers. That’s after a ransomware attack knocked out all of their internal systems district wide. The hackers wanted money to restore their service.

Thousands of students, staff and faculty make up a district or university. In moments, personal information can be compromised.

“Our job is to stay one step ahead of that,” said Andrew Korty, the Chief Information Security Officer at IUPUI, “These groups are sophisticated groups, the attack groups that we’re talking about. It’s organized crime.”

He says he’s dealt with his share of challenges.

“There’s money that can be made out of identity theft, extortion, ransomware. So, they’re going to try and pick off the easiest targets,” said Korty.

The education industry is one of those easy targets.

“We’ve always been faced with a fairly substantial level of attack attempts against us,” said Korty.

Korty says personal information that school districts and universities require has value on the black market. IUPUI has had to add multiple safe guards to block hackers.

“We have what we call two-step login,” Korty explained, “Which you may have seen with your bank, Facebook and things.”

Maya Levine, a Security Engineer with Check Point Software says it’s more challenging for school districts because of funding.

“I think a big portion of that is funding. Schools don’t have money for textbooks, for overcrowded classrooms, not enough money to pay for teachers, things like that. That same concept is going to apply to technology and security,” said Levine.

Other than adding two-step logins, Levine says everyone needs to learn the tricks hackers try to pull.

“Really educate your users because humans are going to be the weakest point in anybody’s cybersecurity defense posture. That’s just the way it goes,” said Levine.

Staying a step ahead to protect our schools online.

“Something bad could happen in the next 10 minutes and we just have to be ready for that,” said Korty.

IUPUI has partnered with four other universities to form a security operations center. That way if an attack is detected at one of the institutions, IUPUI can know about it, before it hits.

There are some ways you can protect yourself against cyber crimes.

First, use a full-service internet security site to protect against hackers.

Then, you’ll want to create strong passwords. Experts recommend a combination of 10 letters, numbers and symbols.

Finally, keep your software updated, doing so can prevent hackers from exploiting known flaws.

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