Posted by: on September 11, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Illustrative photo of frustrated woman in red sweater with her head on her laptop

Small businesses can learn important lessons from big school district failures.

Can a huge school system in Florida teach a lesson to small businesses in Michigan?

Well, how is your firewall these days? When’s the last time someone checked your router configuration?

The Miami-Dade school system in Florida found out the hard way that their network security was not making the grade. The beginning of their all-virtual school year was interrupted by two dozen different cyber attacks. Eight of these were perpetuated by a local 16-year-old, using software downloaded from the internet.

What’s astounding, however, is not that a teen found nasty stuff on the dark web, or even deployed it. Face it, probably all of us had to evacuate school once or twice when someone pulled a false fire alarm. (Although, 8 times within a few days seems a bit much.) The shocking part is that the district’s firewall didn’t stop the attacks immediately.

The teen, described by neighbors as a quiet, caring boy who likes playing basketball, deployed software that causes a DDoS attack. DDoS attacks basically overwhelm a network with bogus activity, blocking access for legitimate traffic. Coupled with technical problems from the district’s virtual learning platform, it was a rough start to the school year for students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

Besides the firewall, cybersecurity experts also suspected a misconfigured router. Quoted in the Miami Herald, Mark Rasch, a cybersecurity expert and former federal cybercrimes prosecutor, said “It’s really easy to prevent. The school must be really out of date on their router configuration.”

In response, the district is investing $5 million in technology infrastructure reviews and upgrades, including a full-scale review of all district “existing technology, critical processes, and current infrastructure.”

What Small Businesses Can Learn From the Miami-Dade School District Cyberattack

Doug Levin, a cybersecurity expert also quoted in the Miami Herald says, “This speaks to the cybersecurity posture of school districts. Historically, it has not been an issue they have worried much about. They have long believed they wouldn’t be a target.”

After all, who would try to take down an entire school district? But these attacks have become more prevalent in recent years. Besides attacks from bored or angry students, hackers target districts for the rich vein of personal data they maintain.

It’s the same attitude we see in a lot of small businesses: “I’m too small to be a target.” But hackers have their reasons. While some focus on hooking big fish, many cast a wide net, not caring who they capture. And no business is 100% safe from a disgruntled employee.

The plain truth is that every business needs a regular review of their network security. Making a small investment in network security maintenance can prevent a huge expense – or losing your business later.

When’s the last time someone reviewed your business network security? Contact TAZ Networks today to make an appointment.

Sources:

Miami Herald article about the attack and other district technology woes

Miami Herald article about the arrested student

Miami-Dade district statement regarding the technology response

Tip via Gizmodo.com

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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