Cyber Incidents in the Second Half of 2020

The second half of 2020 brought more pandemic disruption to schooling and government services. K-12, higher education, and city and county governments continued to deal with disruptions, data breaches, and financial loss related to cyber-attacks.

Ransomware attacks led to days, weeks, and even months of disruption for schools and local governments. Networks were often shut down by officials to prevent the spread of ransomware. Districts around the country were forced to delay their first day of school, and virtual learning was repeatedly disrupted.

Breaches occurred through compromised employee email accounts and theft of physical devices. But new in the second half of 2020, we’ve seen many breaches linked to ransomware attacks. Ransomware perpetrators see value in stealing sensitive information at the same time they lock up networks. Stealing information offers a second way to extort an organization. When an organization refuses to pay a ransom for their locked files, hackers will then threaten to release stolen data online. Additionally, schools continued to see “zoombombings” where virtual learning or other meetings were disrupted by unauthorized users, often delivering profane and racist remarks and images to children.

Financial losses were related to paying ransom demands from ransomware attacks. Local governments, K-12 schools, and universities all paid out 10s to 100s of thousands of dollars in ransom to unlock their files. We can expect to see more attacks since financial success for hackers will lead to further attacks across all industries.

As you review these security incidents, think about where your organization might be vulnerable. Building cyber awareness, particularly phishing awareness, can help prevent most of these attacks. Our Bite-Sized Security Awareness and Phish & Learn programs deliver education and testing that can keep cyber awareness at the forefront of your organization. To find out more information or schedule a free demo, contact us.

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