Ransomeware attacks have been popping up in the news more frequently this past year.
Although only a select few have made it to international headlines, schools and universities have also been frequent victims of these ransomware attacks.
Ransomware attacks use software to encrypt files on computers on the internet and lockout organizations from accessing their files.
Sometimes, these cybercriminals will then threaten to sell or release sensitive information in return for large amounts of money.
Cybercriminals attacked at least 1,681 American schools and universities in 2020, according to research by Emsisoft. The year prior, only 89 schools systems were attacked with ransomware.
Andrew Brandt, a malware researcher with SophosLabs, told the Times that school systems are "essentially low-hanging fruit," due to schools' usually tight budgets and small IT departments.
The California Department of Education just recently started working on cybersecurity for schools.
Districts like the Newhall School District in Santa Clarita, which was targeted by cybercriminals this year, have upped their cybersecurity efforts with frequent phishing exercises and required cybersecurity training for all employees. They have also implemented two-factor authentication for administrators.