Diane Lee reports that Horry County Schools, the third largest school district in South Carolina, was hit with ransomware in February, and paid up:
A photo was sent to Horry County Schools in February. It said if you don’t pay 22 bitcoin within “7 days” “it’s impossible to recover your files.”
Horry paid the $10,000 because the cyber-criminals had breached 80% of its servers.
The district decided to publicly reveal what happened to try to warn others, including admitting how a decision on their part had left them vulnerable:
In it’s case, the hackers snuck in through an old server that was never taken offline.
“We could have very easily prevented this attack for us by saying, you know what, we’re going to keep that system available for access to historical data, but we are not going to make it accessible over the public internet,” said Hucks.
The county learned its lesson, it seems:
Horry County Schools now has a remote back-up offsite, and also several primary back-ups at each school to speed up recovery.
Good detection programs, and backups aren’t cheap, but Brown says it’s far less costly to put more tax dollars towards that than to pay for both the ransom and recovery after you get hit.
Sounds right to me.
One tech administrator interviewed for the story said that in the past six months alone, schools across the country have faced more than 8,500 ransomware attacks alone. But are most districts able to prevent attacks? Probably not:
Most of the software is getting through our anti-virus and our anti-malware and is actually not being picked up. We don’t get alerts typically from that, we get alerts when we notice traffic leaving the computer and going places that it shouldn’t go like Germany and Tiawan and Japan,” said Brown.
Read more on WSPA.