Further ransomware attacks on the UK education sector


An alert warning of further ransomware attacks on the UK’s education sector has been issued by the NCSC after a notable rise in cases over the past week.

The NCSC previously reported increases in ransomware attacks on the UK education sector in September 2020 and March this year, and has updated this alert in line with the latest activity.

Ransomware is a type of malware which can make data or systems unusable until the victim makes a payment, which can have a significant impact in an education environment.

More recently, there has been a trend for cyber criminals to also threaten to release sensitive data stolen from the network during the attack, if the ransom is not paid. There are many high-profile cases where the cyber criminals have followed through with their threats by releasing sensitive data to the public, often via “name and shame” websites on the darknet.

Alongside acting on the mitigation advice contained within the alert, the NCSC strongly emphasises the need for organisations in the sector to protect their networks from attack.

The NCSC has produced a number of practical resources to help educational institutions improve their cyber security, and they are encouraged to take advantage of our Exercise in a Box tool which helps organisations test and practice their response to a cyber attack in a safe environment.

Organisations in the sector are advised to sign up to the NCSC’s free Early Warning service, which is designed to inform organisations of potential cyber attacks on their network as soon as possible.

CyberSprinters – a new teaching resource for primary schools

CyberSprinters, a new online game to help primary schools teach children about cyber security from an early age. It is a free interactive game, developed by the National Cyber Security Centre – a part of GCHQ. Aimed at 7 to 11-year-olds it is designed to make learning about cyber security fun and interactive. 

The online game sees players become a ‘cybersprinter’ who races against its depleting battery power. Users win battery power by correctly answering questions about cyber security but face losing it if they bump into ‘cybervillains’.

The game sits alongside a pack of educational resources which illustrate what good cyber security practice looks like, from creating strong passwords to being vigilant about receiving messages from unknown senders. The content is based on expert cyber security advice provided by cross-governmental Cyber Aware campaign, which helps people protect themselves from common cyber threats.

CyberSprinters materials, accessible from the NCSC website, also include educational presentations and activities for children to complete. The resources support school curricula across the UK’s four nations by linking with key learning objectives.

Surge in self-generated child abuse images

The coronavirus crisis, lockdowns, home working and remote learning has resulted in many of us spending more time online than ever before. It should not be a surprise to anyone that as people have had more time on their hands, less social contact and more time looking at a screen there has been an increase in all sorts of inappropriate, undesirable and illegal behavious.

The IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) reports that the volume of child abuse imagery circulating online soared to record levels over 2020.

With schools once again closed to the majority of children and young people, the IWF warns that "communities of sex predators” will be looking to take advantage of the situation to exploit more children and to share and distribute child sexual abuse material online. Read the full report 

Prehaps no less distrubing is that IWF also notes that the level of self generated CSA imagery - pictures taken by children and young people themselves and shared with or without their knowledge, has increased by 77%.

It is therefore, timely that the UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety) and DCSM (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) have published new guidance for schools on responding to incidents of children and young people generating, sharing and possessing nudes and semi nude images.

 

 

 

NCA Spring Cyber Challenge

Please encourage your KS3 and KS4 pupils to take part in this exciting cyber security competition.

💥LAUNCHING ON 29th MARCH 💥

The weather is heating up and so is the Spring Cyber Challenge. Put your tech skills to the test with Cyber Secuirty Challenge UK for your chance to win a selection of prizes.

Tune in on 29th March to see if you have what it takes to be a cyber expert.

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