Expert weighs in on why hackers attack schools and what usually happens

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – In recent years, cybersecurity attacks on schools have become more and more common.

graphical user interface: More information on school cyber security in Huntsville

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More information on school cyber security in Huntsville

No one knows that better than Doug Levin, he’s behind the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center. It’s a unique database tracking cyber security threats to U.S. public schools.


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Levin began noticing cyber attacks on schools back in 2016, since then, there have been more than 1,000 threats tracked by the site.

“I’ve grown increasingly convinced that this is a problem, that we need to raise awareness about these issues,” he said.

Levin said schools are being targeted more and more now-a-days for a few reasons, he said they usually under-invest in I.T. support and security, computer systems tend to be older and out-of-date because of budget issues and most of all, schools are a need for communities.

“They offer essential services, so there isn’t a lot of tolerance in the community for them being knocked offline, meaning that there is a greater chance hackers can extort money from them,” Levin said.

As for a timetable on a return to devices, Levin said it varies on severity, but he thinks HCS may be dealing with a more severe threat since they’ve asked students and staff to shutdown all devices.

“In that case, you certainly are looking at maybe weeks before things are approaching back to normal, though it could be many months before systems are fully restored,” he said. “A lot of it depends on how the school district approaches it’s recovery efforts and whether they are able to really recover all of that information that may have been compromised.”

Even if the school system does have good backups, there is still the issue of making sure you figure out how your system was inflitrated.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen circumstances where school district have had good backups and tried to restore, but weren’t able to completely evict the malware from their system,” Levin said. “Then only to find themselves get reinfected quickly soon thereafter, so it’s definitely a complicated process.”

So far, HCS said they aren’t sure what…