Ransomware criminals are out there, who is prone to be a victim?

Jul 6, 2023, 7:30 PM

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — A cyberattack has disrupted hospital computer systems in several states,...

FILE - This Feb 23, 2019, file photo shows the inside of a computer in Jersey City, N.J. A ransomware attack paralyzed the networks of at least 200 U.S. companies on Friday, July 2, 2021, according to a cybersecurity researcher whose company was responding to the incident. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — In the aftermath of ransomware criminals taking the personal information of school children in Minnesota and posting it online, how safe do you feel about your child’s school or school district?

The confidential information that was stolen is graphic, intimate and raw, according to The Associated Press

Earl Foote, CEO/founder of Nexus IT, joined KSL NewsRadio on Thursday to discuss the reality of online threats.


“The threat has become very, very real, unfortunately,” he said. “And we’re seeing … the malicious nature of cyber criminals escalate significantly over the recent years, now targeting vulnerable population segments. And easy targets like school districts.”

Ransomware criminals targeting vulnerable

Foote says the ransomware criminals know elementary, junior high and high schools are easy targets.

“Because obviously as you know, educators and parents, we value the privacy and security of our children,” he said. “And the threat of having confidential data about kids released online on the dark web is of significant concern to us.”

Foote says because of school district’s sensitivity to confidential information being released, hackers are assuming that the demands will be met, and the ransom will be paid.

“I don’t know that that strategy is necessarily working out for them as of right now,” Foot said. “So, they’re reverting to the malicious tactic, which is, ‘well, if you don’t pay us, we’re posting all this information online.'”

What if you are victim?

What should you do if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack?

Foote says school districts are not prepared to handle such a situation.

“They don’t have adequate budget. And they don’t have adequate protocol for what we would call incident response programs, or instant response plans,” he said.

In a business setting, Foote says decent companies will have an incident response plan formulated. This includes contacts such as a cyber attorney or cyber professionals, who can come in and resolve the situation.

According to data, Foote says one out of three school districts around the country have been hit over the past four or five years.

“The reality is schools are at a disadvantage right now,” he said. ”

His recommendation is for parents to get involved in school associations. He says if you are an expert, try to donate time to the school to train staff and students.

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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Ransomware criminals are out there, who is prone to be a victim?