SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – The number of cyberattacks targeting school districts and local governments is on the rise across the country, including in Central New York.
Between July 9 and July 12, both the Syracuse City School District and the Onondaga County Library System were impacted by separate ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of software designed to hold a computer or network hostage, while hackers demand money in exchange for its release.
“These types of attacks typically start as a result of fishing a user. So you receive an email with a nefarious attachment or it has a link that’s embedded,” said Steve Stasiukonis, Managing Partner at Secure Network of Syracuse.
Stasiukonis has worked in the cybersecurity field since the late 1990s. He explained clicking on either the unknown attachment or embedded link can allow hackers access to your computer or computer network.
While the hackers motive – money is almost always the same, Stasiukonis said their methods may differ. There are anywhere from 140 to 150 different types of ransomware kits available for download on the dark web.
Both cases in Central New York used a type of ransomware called Ryuk.
“Hundreds of these attacks occur every day across the country and you hear about a fraction of the attacks that occur,” said Stasiukonis.
Stasiukonis added while paying a hackers ransom may be the easy solution, it can also be seen as a weakness by hackers and could mean falling repeat victim in the future.
The other option is to rebuild the entire computer network. The City of Baltimore School District chose that route in 2018, at a cost of 13-million-dollars.
“Whether it be a school district a government agency. They’re looking to get into these bigger networks because they know that they have a larger bucket of wealth to tap in to, to pay a larger ransom. They’re not going to get that money from a consumer. So there has been a shift,” said Stasiukonis.
A shift in cyberattacks that have now publically hit Central New York.
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