How to protect your child’s online identity in case of a ransomware attack

Sep 8, 2022, 7:00 AM
children identity ransomware...
Whether a child's online identity is safety is called into question after a ransomware attack over the Labor Day weekend on the Los Angeles School District caused "significant disruption" to computer systems. (Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — A ransomware attack over the Labor Day weekend on the Los Angeles School District caused “significant disruption” to computer systems but classes did resume on Tuesday, the district said, according to CNN.

After New York City, the LA School District is the second largest school district in the country. It serves more than 600,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade at more than 1,000 schools. The LA School District employs more than 26,000 teachers, according to TechCrunch.

Along with local law enforcement, the LA School District said it was working on the cyberattack with the White House, FBI, the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Are Utah districts at risk of a ransomware attack?

Ransomware group targeting schools

Earl Foote with Nexus IT joined KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic & Dave Noriega to discuss how to protect our children’s identities from hackers.


Foote echoed the warning from the FBI and CISA that Vice Society, a ransomware group, is targeting US school districts. And those districts, he said, often don’t have the budgets to maintain cybersecurity to the degree of corporate entities.

“There is a specific hacking group called Vice Society. They’re a ruthless double-extortion hacking group that emerged in 2021. They have been targeting specifically the education sector and health care, primarily. Those are typically sectors that have been off-limits to hacking groups, but this group seems to not have many scruples,” Foote said.

“Did you say double extortionist?” Dave asked.

Foote explained that the hackers will ask for a ransom to release a school district’s data and another ransom to not release the data on the Dark Web.

“Precedents will show that school districts will pay in order to protect student, families, staff and donor data. And so it makes them a target that is definitely attractive to hackers,” Foote said.

“You’re making a deal with the devil if you pay because there’s no real guarantee that they’re not going to leak the identities and all the personally identifiable information that they’ve gleaned from these files that live inside school districts and just sell it on the dark web,” Debbie said.

“Yeah, that is all absolutely true,” Foote said. 

The lowest of the low

He added most hacking groups won’t make life-threatening ransom demands from health care organizations, energy or government infrastructure.

But not Vice Society.

“It’s pretty low to hack a K through 12 school district and release student data, in my opinion, but this doesn’t seem to be a group that cares about that,” Foote said.

Teach kids how to be safe online

“You are the IT [information technology] expert we go to. Give us a 30-second Reader’s Digest version of what parents need to do make sure their kid’s identity is kept safe at all times, no matter what the circumstances,” Debbie said.

Foote said most parents are trained at work on how to recognize and avoid cyberthreats. to their employers.

“I would most definitely recommend that they bring that information home and train their own kids,” he advised. He also recommended purchasing identity monitoring for children.

“There are services out there where … you can be flagged and notified if their identity has been released on the dark web. Most definitely do that with yourself as an adult, but you can also do it with your children,” he said, adding the cost is between $100 and $150 a year.

“That’s the cost of doing business to keep our kids’ identity safe,” Debbie said.

“It’s worth it,” he said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  


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How to protect your child’s online identity in case of a ransomware attack