Increase In Classes Missed By Students Due To Cyber Attacks

Cyber Attack School

The recent spike in cyber attacks on educational institutions, as detailed by BBC News, highlights an escalating threat landscape that schools across the globe are facing. This issue is of particular concern because schools, historically less equipped and less prepared for sophisticated cyber threats, are now finding themselves at the forefront of targeted ransomware and brute-force attacks. The narrative of Brockington College and Embrace Multi-Academy Trust underscores a broader trend that is both alarming and indicative of the evolving challenges within cyber security in education.

According to a report by the Information Commissioner’s Office, there has been a 55% increase in cyber incidents within the education and childcare sector in 2023 compared to 2022. This alarming statistic is mirrored globally, as indicated by a Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report which found that educational services are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals, primarily due to the valuable personal data stored within their systems.

The impact of these cyber attacks is far-reaching. As seen at Brockington College, operational disruptions such as cancelled lessons, compromised safety protocols, and hindered administrative functions underscore the severity of the threat. Moreover, the personal testimonies from students about the increased complexity of daily routines, such as extended lunch queues and disrupted homework submissions, personify the day-to-day challenges posed by these cyber incidents.

Financial constraints further exacerbate the vulnerability of educational institutions. Despite the Department for Education’s commitment to increasing school funding, the reality is that many schools struggle to allocate adequate resources for comprehensive cyber security defenses. A 2019 study by Absolute Software highlighted that budget constraints often lead schools to use outdated technology, making them easy targets for cyber attacks.

The call by Sharon Mullins for more open discussions among school leaders about cyber threats is crucial. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends several strategies for schools to bolster their cyber resilience, including implementing a “defense in depth” strategy, conducting regular staff training, and maintaining robust backup procedures.

Educational institutions must prioritise investment in cyber security infrastructure and training to mitigate these threats. It is imperative that school leadership teams understand the risks and are prepared to implement proactive measures. Cyber security is no longer just an IT issue but a strategic imperative that affects the safety and well-being of students and the functionality of educational environments.

In conclusion, the rising trend of cyber attacks on schools highlights a critical need for enhanced cyber security practices within the education sector. By fostering a culture of awareness, maintaining strong security protocols, and ensuring continuous dialogue on best practices, schools can better safeguard themselves against the increasing threat of cyber attacks. The education sector must adapt swiftly and decisively to protect its stakeholders from these evolving cyber threats.

Source: “Pupils miss classes as school cyber attacks rise” by Nathan Standley, and Elaine Dunkley, BBC News.

Stu Walsh

Stu Walsh

I have recently left my position as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Blue Stream Academy Ltd. who are a leading provider of online training and HR solutions to healthcare organisations in the UK. I oversaw the organisation’s information security strategies, ensuring the protection of sensitive data, and complying with healthcare industry-specific regulations and standards. During my time as CISO, I established and maintained the Information Security Management System (ISMS) required for our ongoing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, ISO27001 and PCI-DSS certifications.

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