Biggest Cyber Attacks on Education Sector in 2022 and What We’ve Learned From Them

students in classroom using technology

Cybersecurity is a critical concern for school districts. In 2022, there were several major cyber attacks within the education sector. These attacks caused significant damage and disruption to students, staff, and academic institutions. Fortunately, school leaders and cybersecurity experts have learned a great deal from these incidents and are better equipped to protect against them in 2023.

At ANC Group, we are committed to helping the education sector stay secure and cyber-resilient in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats. As we take a look back at a few of this year’s biggest cyber attacks we will discuss what went wrong and how to avoid this in the future.

LA School District 

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) became a victim of a major cyber attack earlier this year. The attack occurred over Labor Day weekend, a time when most internal IT departments are not closely monitoring their network for intrusions. This unfortunately allowed the attackers to remain undetected for much longer within the school district’s network.

According to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, “a financial demand was initially requested by the threat actor and the demand was not responded to.”  District officials have not reported how much money the hacker or hackers demanded, nor what information they claim to have stolen. However, it was later released that some of the data accessed during this time included students’ names but lacked any additional personally identifiable information such as Protected Health Information (PHI) or Social Security numbers.

This cyber attack goes to show that the education sector must have proactive cybersecurity protocols in place, including 24/7 network monitoring with intrusion protection to immediately stop any suspicious activity and a secure managed data backup solution to ensure data is retrievable in the event of a ransomware attack.

New York School District 

Back to school often means back to cyber attacks, and the New York City school district definitely has felt the pressure to increase cybersecurity efforts this year after multiple cyber attack attempts. Kicking off the new year, the school district had a breach in January affecting over 500 schools across New York. 

Illuminate Education, a taxpayer-funded software company the city’s Department of Education used to track grades and attendance, was hacked. Cybercriminals gained access to students’ names, birthdays, ethnicities, special education data, and free lunch statuses. This breach affected the personal information of more than a million current and former students across dozens of districts.

Education officials came forward with accusations that Illuminate failed to encrypt its software. Chancellor David Banks went on record to say, “We are outraged that Illuminate represented to us and schools that legally required, industry-standard critical safeguards were in place when they were not.” This failure cost the public school district a colossal data leak, affecting approximately 938,000 students.

Securing your own systems isn’t enough anymore—school districts need to be able to trust their suppliers have cybersecurity protocols in place to protect sensitive data.  School Districts are responsible for protecting their students, faculty, and parents in the event of a breach. ANC Group only partners with the best software vendors in the industry and ensures that your safeguards are in place to keep your school protected.

Secure Your School District With Comprehensive Cybersecurity Solutions 

ANC Group can help you prevent and mitigate damages from cyber attacks. It’s more important than ever for school districts to have a strong cybersecurity infrastructure in place to protect their staff and students from the growing threat landscape.

Our team of security experts offers comprehensive, proactive cybersecurity solutions that can help keep your school’s systems safe and secure. Our security services include managed cybersecurity, 24/7 network monitoring, penetration testing, managed data backup and recovery services. ANC Group provides a cybersecurity program that protects and defends your school or district.  Contact ANC today to find out how to protect your organization from the next cyber attack.