Schools Have to Learn the ABCs of Ransomware

Ransomware has traditionally been a practice where cybercriminals encrypt data and demand ransom in exchange for a decryption key. More recently, a growing number of these bad actors threaten to make this information public if they do not get paid. This shift in the practice of ransomware has increased the "attractiveness" of K-12 schools for cyber criminals. Information about children is among the most highly protected data there is, making it more likely ransoms will be paid to keep it private. For this and other reasons, K-12 schools are seeing an increase in ransomware activity. In 2021, there were at least 62 reported ransomware cases as compared to only 11 in 2018. 2021 also saw ransomware as the most common cyber incident for K-12 schools for the first time ever.

What Gets Compromised in a Ransomware Attack?

An incident in 2020 involving Fairfax County, VA Public Schools resulted in employee social security numbers being posted online. Hackers targeting a school district in Allen, Texas emailed parents with threats to expose their childs' personal information if educators did not pay a ransom. Showing the full swing of ransomware impacts from the serious to the mundane, a 2022 attack on the Griggsville-Perry School District in Indiana had many records compromised and leaked including a detention slip from December 2014 for a student who would not stop interrupting his health class. This shows the breadth of access that hackers had to documents and has led many schools to reexamine their file retention policy to reduce the amount of data accessible to bad actors. Continue reading

Socrata Powers–and Benefits From–Open Data Movement in Government

Originally posted by Benjamin Romano on Xconomy

Drawing on an unprecedented amount of government data that is easier to access than ever before, more than 11,000 software developers, entrepreneurs, students, and others across the country devoted part of last weekend to building technologies designed to help local, state, and federal governments solve problems and improve their communities.

The first National Day of Civic Hacking encompassed events in 83 cities including Detroit, where an understaffed city department sought help answering its phones; Denver, where the winning team built an app that helps visitors find legal marijuana dispensaries; and Seattle, where teams developed tools to connect people with events in their neighborhoods.

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Postal Service Defends Pricey Conference as Chance to Boost Revenue

Originally posted by Eric Katz on Government Executive

The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday defended its decision to spend more than $2 million on an upcoming conference, saying the event is an opportunity to grow revenue.

USPS is sending 400 employees to the National Postal Forum Conference, an annual event held to educate businesses and mailing industry professionals on the services available to them. The vast majority of USPS attendees participate in the conference for free, as they are deemed to have added value, according to the Postal Service.

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