Pupils miss classes as school cyber attacks rise

Cancelled lessons and snaking lunchtime queues are among the ways pupils are being affected by an increasing number of cyber attacks on schools according to a recent report by the BBC

We all know that cyber attacks are rampant at the moment, but a report published by the BBC last months highlights how much they are having an impact on schools in the UK.

They source new figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office, (ICO) that show 347 cyber incidents were reported in the education and childcare sector in 2023 which is an increase of 55% compared to 2022.

Pupil's education is being heavily affected by cyber attacks on their schools

The impact of an attack

The article goes through and speaks to several schools and academies who have been recently affected by attacks. One such academy was Granville Academy in Swadlincote who had to remain closed for an extra day after the Easter break while all the systems were brought back online after an attack.

"You don't realise how much you rely on the technology in terms of the systems it affects"

Michelle Oliphant, head of Granville Academy

The type of cyber attack which increased most across all sectors between the end of 2022 and 2023, according to the ICO, was ransomware, incidents of which increased by 170%.

A lack of investment...

It’s no secret that the education sector is stretched financially, more so than ever. That lack of investment opens the door for bad threat actors to take advantage.

Traditionally, internal school IT departments haven’t had to deal with the scale of attacks which are now a daily occurrence.

School Exterior
A lack of investment means Cyber Security is not a priority

Our take on this report

We’ve seen plenty of examples of education settings contacting us after a cyber attack has happened, looking for assistance to get back up and running. Unfortunately, once the horse has bolted, it really is just a case of limiting the damage and trying to return normality as quickly as possible to reduce the impact on staff and students.

It’s not a case of if but when a school or academy will be breached, and we urge all education settings to review their Cyber Security policies and allocate funding where they can to bolster defences.

We have a team of experts on hand who can provide guidance and recommendations and we urge any schools or academies who read this to get in touch with us (or their existing provider) to plug the gaps before the bad guys find them. A vulnerability assessment or penetration test is a great place to start.

Report source: BBC

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