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Schools: The Latest Cyber-Attack Target

October 17, 2017

Government agencies, businesses, hospitals and universities have long been targets of data breaches. Now K-12 and even preschools are also at risk, with cyber-attacks aimed at parents’ credit-card numbers, medical data and other sensitive information routinely collected on students and stored on school servers.

CCIG’s Joaquin Escobar.

Schools, unfortunately, make for relatively easy targets.

According to a survey by Radware, a cybersecurity firm, schools have cybersecurity budgets that are half the size of those for financial institutions or government organizations. They’re 70 percent lower than those of telecommunications or retail companies.

At the same time, educational institutions have become the second-most common target for network attacks, according to Trend Micro, a security software company. The reason? Schools serve a young population that connects to the web using a wide mix of devices, many of them lacking in security protocols.

One of the most common attacks involves ransomware, in which attackers block access to a school’s computer system until a sum of money, often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, is paid.

Phishing scams are also common, designed to direct victims to a fraudulent website where they are asked to share private information that can be used to commit identity theft.

Teachers’ data, as well as children’s, are stolen by these attackers.

Schools can protect themselves in the same way any business or government organization can: with software, including encryption tools, and better controls.

Insurance can also play a crucial role in helping a school respond and recover from a cyber-attack.

These policies are designed to minimize the impact to your business and your reputation, including:

  • Breach notification to customers.
  • Credit card monitoring services.
  • Consulting and forensic fees to identify and resolve the cause of a data breach.
  • Defense and settlement costs if you are sued for alleged failure to prevent unauthorized access to, or use of, personal information.
  • Costs to retain a public relations consultant to help restore your reputation.

Cyber-attacks once were a problem only big companies had to worry about. Today, while large-company breaches still make most of the headlines, the reality is that one-third of documented data breaches occur in businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

What’s more, 60% of small businesses close their doors within six months following a cyber-attack.

No matter your size, a cyber-attack nowadays seems more likely than ever; it’s no longer something that you see happening to someone else on the news. Cyber insurance can be a smart precaution for any size school.

Joaquin Escobar, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-212-2054 or JoaquinE@thinkccig.com.

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

Related: A New Chapter in Teacher Background Checks

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