Despite its security skills advancing over time, the public school sector in the US, known as K-12, continues to be a top target for cyberattacks, says a Center for Internet Security research report. The warning comes hot on the heels of two US schools staying closed due to cyber attacks.
In a letter sent to its staff, the Jackson county intermediate school district (ISD) alerted about a ‘system outage’ that impacted its critical operating systems. Owing to this, several public schools it provides technology services to were asked to remain closed on November 14. The pdf alert noted that the affected systems were those of telephones, classroom technology, and heating facilities.
Since this system outage or a possible hacking incident is still under investigation, the school superintendent Kevin Oxley announced a day’s leave to aid in the proper detection of the issue. This one-day leave is for schools from both Jackson and Hillsdale counties that were affected by the system outage.
Schools and cyber attacks
Schools were reportedly asking their students to not use the internet or computers because of the presently undetected issue.
“All of our network stuff is intertwined – our phones are on the network, obviously the internet’s on the network, building automation controls are on the network,” Jeff Beal, the superintendent of Jackson public schools said in an announcement. The Jackson area career center was also set to be closed.
When it comes to cybersecurity, the K-12 schools have improved in many areas, but there are serious loose ends too, according to the Center for Internet Security report.
When it comes to addressing the concerns discussed above, K-12 school districts vary in their security-related competencies. According to the 2021 NCSR, organizations in the K-12 sector do well in Identity Management and Access Control, Awareness and Training, and Business Environment. In general, they struggle in areas such as implementing protective technologies such as audit log management and malware defenses,” it said.
School scams alarming parents
Meanwhile, text scams were found asking to change account passwords. Reacting to the scam the school clarified, “The district has not and will not send out messages asking for passwords to be changed,” according to a news report. In a similar incident, the Katy ISD police department’s Twitter account was hacked wherein hackers sent out messages through it to Katy families.
The fake messages were digitally altered, and spread rumors about bomb threats on Katy ISD schools, the department alerted. The incident that took place last week has become a cause of worry among schools and their students. The department warned of any student’s involvement in such cybercrimes will not be taken lightly.