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In September 2020, the National Cyber Security Centre issued an alert, warning of increasing ransomware affecting schools, as well as colleges and universities. Earlier in 2021, the alert was updated to warn of yet another spike. The numerous headlines, especially over the summer, suggested that schools have been hit particularly hard, with successful attacks that can harm many people emerging on a regular basis.
Ransomware remains one of the most prominent cybersecurity threats faced by businesses and organisations in today’s digital age. Via ransomware, attackers could gain the power to take control of entire systems or networks. They could bring operations to a standstill, and could potentially steal swathes of private information. Where schools are concerned, ransomware can be particularly dangerous, as these organisations often hold a great deal of sensitive information relating to vulnerable children and young people.
As the ransomware threat shows no sign of abetting, it is essential that schools take action to improve their prevention and response methods, or they could be liable for the exposure of extensive personal data. Where a school has failed to protect the private details of you or your child, you could be eligible to pursue a data breach compensation claim now.
There are almost too many recent school ransomware attacks to list, but it is important to highlight that these incidents seem to be happening in localised clusters. Some schools operate in trusts or federations, which can mean that potentially dozens of schools are connected to one overall system. As such, they could all be hit at once when a ransomware attack occurs.
For example, the Harris Federation is in charge of running some 50 primary and secondary schools in the London area, and was hit by a wide-reaching ransomware attack in March. The incident put the school’s email system out of action, and it was reported that information was encrypted by the hackers, which stopped its employees from gaining access to it.
A similarly disruptive incident reportedly hit 24 schools in the Bristol area in April. Although it was believed that no personal information was affected, the incident was still costly, leaving schools with the task of having to try to recoup entire systems.
Is some cases of ransomware affecting schools, attackers do not manage to steal personal information, but the possibility of data theft should be enough to make further cybersecurity measures a priority for schools. The National Cyber Security Centre has advised that it has a guide dedicated to strategies for mitigating ransomware and malware, which can provide schools with greater awareness of the potential vulnerabilities in their networks.
With ransomware affecting schools up and down the country, many pupils, parents and staff members are at risk of being affected. If you believe an educational organisation has failed to protect your personal information, you could be entitled to make a compensation claim now.
At Your Lawyers (The Data Leak Lawyers), as leading data claims experts, we have been representing clients for privacy matters since 2014. We have helped victims claiming in some of the largest data breach group action claims in the UK, such as the British Airways and Virgin Media group actions.
We can often offer No Win, No Fee representation to eligible claimants.
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