Ransomware attack on a private school

May 7, 2024

A private school, which caters to students ranging from kindergarten to high school, suffered a ransomware attack in early January 2023. The school is known for its high-quality education and attracts international and local students. The attack–attributed to the Maze ransomware group–was sophisticated, and the cybercriminals responsible demanded a ransom payment of around USD 51 thousand to restore access to the school’s systems.

In early 2023, a southeast Asian private school offering education from kindergarten to high school levels fell victim to a sophisticated ransomware attack attributed to the Maze ransomware group. The attackers exploited a vulnerability through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), employing a "spray and pray" approach to target RDP services exposed to the internet. Once inside, they deployed ransomware, encrypting essential data across the school's systems, including academic resources, administrative documents, and communication platforms.

The immediate consequence was large scale disruption, forcing the suspension of classes and hindering internal communication. The attack also significantly impacted the school's finances, as it incurred substantial costs for incident response, external security experts, data reproduction, accountants, and legal services. The compromised data included sensitive information about students and their families, potentially exposing them to identity theft and fraudulent activities. Not only that, mishandling minors' data raised the risk of legal repercussions under international privacy laws, especially for the school’s US, UK and EU students.

The attack's implications extended beyond immediate financial losses. The school's reputation suffered a blow, leading to a potential decline in enrollments, loss of funding, and damaged relationships. 

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