- Comparitech reports that cyberattacks on the education sector have maintained a persistently high level over the past four years, indicating that 2023 is on track to set a record for such incidents potentially.
- Education institutions affected by ransomware attacks experienced varying downtimes, ranging from a few hours to a maximum of 36 days.
Recently, tech research site Comparitech released a report outlining a concerning increase in cyberattacks directed at the education sector, encompassing 85 attacks during the first half of 2023.
The report states that between 2018 and mid-September, ransomware attacks have impacted 561 educational institutions. It is estimated that these attacks have cost the global economy approximately USD 53 billion, considering downtime a significant factor.
While ransomware attacks in various sectors declined in 2022, the education sector witnessed a consistent rise, with numbers steadily increasing throughout the year. Comparitech reports that cyberattacks on the education sector have maintained a persistently high level over the past four years, indicating that 2023 is on track to set a record for such incidents potentially. The 85 attacks documented in the initial half of this year represent an alarming increase, nearly doubling the 45 attacks reported during the same period in 2022.
Within the 561 attacks since 2018, a staggering 6.7 million individual records were compromised. Notably, schools catering to students up to age 16 were the primary targets in recent years in terms of the highest number of records stolen. Ransom demands directed at educational institutions ranged from USD 1,000 to an astounding USD 40 million. On average, hackers demanded approximately USD 1.5 million. Based on these figures, Comparitech’s estimate suggests that a cumulative total of approximately USD 1 billion in ransom payments has been demanded.
While the ransom demands reached a staggering USD 1 billion, the amount believed to have been paid out post-attacks is notably lower, standing at a more modest USD 4.2 million. This sum was distributed across 16 out of the 561 total attacks.
Education institutions affected by ransomware attacks experienced varying downtimes, ranging from a few hours to a maximum of 36 days. On average, the downtime spanned six to eight days. However, the average has surged to 11.6 days this year, extending through most of September.
In 2022, the predominant ransomware group targeting educational institutions was Vice Society. However, in 2023, it has been joined by LockBit, Royal, Medusa, and Rhysida, intensifying the threat landscape.
“The fact that the education sector didn’t see the same dip in attacks as other industries last year highlights how schools and colleges remain a focus for ransomware hackers,” the report notes. “Add to this the ongoing spike in ransomware attacks across all industries, and the threat of these cyber-attacks remains high — if not higher — for the education sector.
The report ends with a caution, suggesting a probable surge in ransomware attacks against educational institutions in the upcoming month. Hackers aim to pilfer larger quantities of data, signifying a heightened threat scenario.