More Schools Hit By Cyber-Attacks Before Term Begins

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A north London school and a Berkshire schools group have become the latest victims of serious cyber-attacks ahead of the new term, according to local reports.

Highgate Wood School in Crouch End will now begin accepting pupils on September 11 rather than September 5 as originally intended.

The secondary school, which serves local students aged 11–16, appears to have escaped the worst of the attack. However, the delay will be a bombshell for working parents of its 1500 pupils, who will now need to find last-minute childcare.

“Having carried out investigations, we are extremely confident that our data has not been breached,” read an email from headteacher, Patrick Cozier, to parents, seen by Ham&High.

“With the help of Haringey Council, London Grid for Learning and other external experts in the field of cybersecurity, we’re doing everything to get our systems and functionality back up and running as swiftly and securely as possible.”

Read more on education sector cyber-threats: UK Schools Hit by Mass Leak of Confidential Data

There’s little additional information on the nature of the attack, although ransomware would be an obvious suspect.

The UK’s education sector was hit by a far greater share of ransomware in 2022 than many other countries. It accounted for 16% of total victims observed on data leak sites versus 4% in France and Germany, and 7% in the US.

Ransomware was blamed directly by Reading-based Maiden Erlegh Trust, which provides education to over 1800 pupils in the area. A letter sent to parents yesterday said individual schools were still struggling with IT access. 

Just yesterday, Infosecurity reported that another UK school, Debenham High School in Suffolk, had been forced to pull the plug on its IT systems due to a cyber-attack last week.

Experts argued that online extortionists are banking on the start of the new term to turn up the pressure on compromised schools to pay up.

“They remain a prime target due to the valuable data they hold and their typically less-than-robust cybersecurity practices,” argued Joseph Carson, chief security strategist at Delinea.

“Recent incidents highlight the need to enhance security measures, prioritize automation and strong access controls, and establish robust backup solutions to prevent or minimize the impact on students’ education.”

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