The FBI has issued a security alert warning K12 schools of the “ransomware threat” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation sent out on Tuesday a security alert to K12 schools about the increase in ransomware attacks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and especially about ransomware gangs that abuse RDP connections to break into school systems.
The alert, called a Private Industry Notification, or PIN, tells schools that “cyber actors are likely to increase targeting of K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic because they represent an opportunistic target as more of these institutions transition to distance learning.”
Schools are likely to open up their infrastructure for remote staff connections, which in many cases would mean create Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) accounts on internal school systems.
Over the past two-three years, many ransomware gangs have utilized brute-force attacks or vulnerabilities in RDP to breach corporate networks and deploy file-encrypting ransomware.
However, while companies usually have resources for a professional security team to protect their remote access infrastructure and endpoints, the same is not true for K12 schools, the FBI said.
“K-12 institutions have limited resources to dedicate to network defense, leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks,” the FBI said.