Experts offer cybersecurity advice to stay safe online after Park Hill sees malware attack

Technology

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School will be back in session Wednesday in the Park Hill School District. Tech teams spent countless hours restoring programs infected during a malware attack.

The FBI recently warned that school districts in particular can be a target of malware and ransomware, with a 30% spike in these kinds of attacks during the pandemic.

“Thank you” notes sent to Park Hill’s technology staff plaster the walls, in the space where experts worked to safely restore computer systems impacted by a cyber attack.

But what happened in Park Hill is a reminder there’s a lot we can all do to keep our technology use safe.

“Ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats on the internet,” said Burton Kelso, Integral Chief Tech Expert. “Once someone clicks on a link in an email or website, once the ransomware is activated, it can take a matter of minutes in order to not only infect the original computer where the ransomware was downloaded on but can also go across company networks.”

Although Park Hill won’t say if a ransom was demanded or paid, tech experts say most malware comes with an ask for cash.

“Usually in most ransomware attacks, the personal information is not snagged. The sole purpose is to get the ransom money and to either deliver or not deliver the information that was encrypted,” Kelso saod.

But personal data can be exposed or wiped. So it’s always good to back up important documents and closely watch your personal information.

“Setting up alerts like identity theft alerts so they’re scanning the dark web and other resources, making sure if an account we’ve established is hacked, we’re aware of that,” said Tiffany Franklin, Optiv cybersecurity education manager. “So things like that, that’s why what I do for a living is teaching people security awareness, best practices, changing passwords frequently, using unique passwords on all accounts, long passwords, all those basic best practices.”

Park Hill is already looking at how to improve future cybersecurity training, and it’s thankful for an outpouring of support this week, including meals, drinks, gift cards, and inboxes full of “thank you” notes.

You can learn more about steps to protect your online safety here.

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