Ransomware attacks on educational institutions have risen substantially in the last year, according to security company Sophos. The company’s State of Ransomware in Education 2022 report found that 56% of lower education respondents had been hit by ransomware in the past year, along with 64% of higher education institutions. That makes an average of 60% across the education sector overall, up from 44% in the previous year.
While education institutions suffer fewer attacks than the 66% global cross-sector average, more encryption-based attacks against this sector are slightly more successful at 73% on average. The global average encryption rate across all sectors sat at 65% over the past year.
Almost all education victims got their data back, mostly from backups. Just under half agreed to pay the ransom fee for data retrieval, which typically got them less than two-thirds of their data back.
When ransomware strikes the education sector, the results are dire. On average, just over 95% of all education institutions said that ransomware attacks hindered their operations. It took universities and colleges longer to recover, with 40% of them reporting that operations were not back to normal for a month, compared to 26% of lower education schools. The education sector had the longest recovery time overall, with an average of 7% taking over three months to recover compared to 4% across all sectors.
Educators rely heavily on cyber insurance, with 78% adopting it, and it almost always pays out in the event of a ransomware attack, the report said.
The survey covered 730 educational institutions (320 from lower education institutions serving children under 18 and 410 from higher education institutions such as universities and colleges. It was part of a cross-sector poll that covered 5600 respondents across 31 countries.