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.

Cyber Criminals and Your School

The number of cyber attacks on schools has increased in the last few weeks. These attacks often take the form of a ransomeware attack. Ransomeware is a type of computer virus that corrupts, threatens to destory or locks you out of your school data until a ransome has been paid. Paying the ransome might not result in the safe return of your data and may even identify you as a profitable target for future attacks.

Ransomware attacks can have a devastating impact on organisations, with victims requiring a significant amount of recovery time to reinstate critical services. These events can also be high profile in nature, with wide public and media interest. In recent incidents affecting the education sector, ransomware has led to the loss of student coursework, school financial records, as well as data relating to COVID-19 testing.

The NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) has produced a number of practical resources to help schools and other educational institutions improve their cyber security. The resources and further guidance can be found in this week's updated guidance.

 

Returning To School - Mental Health and Wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown is an unprecedented situation. We do not know what the impact will be on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. But we do know that in many cases it will be teachers who will be in the front line dealing with pupils' anxieties, questions and behaviours.

Many mental health charities and organisations have produced materials, advice and guidance to help school staff during this challenging time.

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Its resources include:

Other useful resources include:

Place2be.org.uk is a children's mental health charity and has provided a number of recourses including assemblies and group activities for both primary and secondary aged pupils.

NSPCC  has pulled together guidance on 

  • safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures
  • recognising and responding to concerns
  • the impact of coronavirus on children’s mental health
  • supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Mentally Health Schools has a produced a returning to school toolkit

Young Minds -Tips, advice and wellbeing resources to support pupils as well as staff and parents during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition back to the classroom.

 

DfE changes to KCSiE

The new version of the DfE’s statutory safeguarding guidance “Keeping Children Safe in Education” was released on the 17th June. It comes into effect on the 1st September, so it is important that designated safeguarding leads and governors know what changes have been made.

Some of those changes include:

Covid-19

Mental Health

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Online safety

Supply teachers

The following places offer detailed break down of the changes:

Andre Hall’s video

Becki Avery’s blog from the Education People, formally Kent County Council

LGfL Digisafe’s  blog

What Really Happened Online During Lock Down?

As we begin to struggle back to some resemblance of normality and look towards fully opened schools in the autumn it is perhaps time to take a few minutes to consider what has just happened. For many people the pandemic was the first time that they have ever found themselves truly reliant on technology for such basic human needs such as food, company, work or education. And for some schools, online learning was a Godsend. It enabled staff to keep in touch with pupils, it provided parents support with hone-schooling and it gave many pupils a life line to trusted adults and the reassurance that they and their education were still importance.

We think that many of you will have done great things for your pupils during lock down and found creative ways to make the most of the technology you had available. We'd like to celebrate those things and share those fantastic ideas. Please no false modesty here - whether you kept your year 4's or you GCSE history class online and learning during the lockdown you did a great thing. Please let us know about it by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can help others learn from your experience.

You might also want to find out how your pupils felt about online learning. Our friends at LGfL have created a short questionnaire that you might like to use with your pupils.

We aren't asking you to share this information with us. However, if you think that your results highlight an important lesson that others could benefit from hearing about, again please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your contributions will be used anonymously.

And for a bit of a bigger picture about online learning in the time of coronavirus please read the Sutton Trust report. It highlights some really important points about technology, social mobility and the digital divide.

I

 

Page 1 of 3

Latest from the Blog