Ransomware: Prevention and Recovery in K-12 Environments

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Ransomware is insidious, and effective, and its use is growing fast. If you haven’t yet experienced the dismay of finding your files inaccessible and a ransom demand on the screen, chances are good that you will soon.

Introduction

Until now, K-12 IT professionals have been slow to adopt protections against ransomware, perhaps thinking that they are unlikely to be targeted. But if your userbase includes young people and children, it is an especially tempting target. Young users are simply less mindful of potential consequences, and more likely to open suspicious email and attachments, which is how most attacks begin.

With the right combination of protective measures, however, it is entirely possible to block most attacks—and to render powerless those few that may penetrate your network.

Secure Your Network with Advanced Threat Protection

Barracuda Advanced Threat Protection is a set of powerful, layered security technologies that are used by multiple Barracuda products to detect and block sophisticated attacks such as ransomware.

Barracuda NextGen Firewalls leverage Advanced Threat Protection capabilities including heuristic analysis and sandbox analysis to identify and block advanced threats in traffic crossing your network perimeter. They also let you easily enforce granular access policies and controls, to ensure the most at-risk users— such as students—are not able to spread malware to critical parts of the network.

All policies and protections are also extended to remote, mobile, and off-network users—meaning that students who use personal or school-issued devices to access the internet via public and unsecured Wi-Fi networks are still protected.

Secure Your Email Infrastructure

Barracuda Email Security Gateway and Barracuda Essentials for Email Security use Advanced Threat Protection capabilities to secure your email infrastructure against ransomware and other advanced threats.

Suspicious attachments and embedded URLs are activated in a secure sandbox environment and analyzed. Advanced capabilities including anti-fraud intelligence, behavioral and heuristic detection, protection against sender spoofing, and domain name validation detect and block phishing and spearphishing emails. Barracuda Link Protection also spots and blocks typosquatting and link protection techniques.

Barracuda Sentinel is a cloud-hosted service that uses artificial intelligence to detect and block spear phishing and cyber fraud attacks in real time. It connects directly to Office 365, so it works alongside any other email security solution with no impact on network performance or user experience. Barracuda Sentinel also provides automated user training to further enhance your defense against spear phishing.

Email inboxes nearly always contain latent threats, including ransomware. One idle click on the wrong URL or attachment can lead to an attack. Barracuda Email Threat Scanner—a free online service—scans your email to find latent threats, as well as active ones spreading through internal email.

Ransomware Recovery

When ransomware strikes, a strong backup solution is your best friend. Instead of paying the ransom, just delete the affected files, restore them from backup, and carry on as if nothing happened.

Barracuda Backup is a comprehensive cloud-integrated solution for protecting physical, virtual, and SaaS environments. It is very simple to deploy and manage. Automated backups ensure you always have a recent record of your data. Barracuda backup is available as an onsite physical or virtual appliance. It supports replication to a remote Barracuda Backup appliance or virtual appliance, or to Barracuda Cloud Storage using 256-bit AES encryption.

Having backup onsite helps speed recovery in case data is lost for any reason, including ransomware. Having it replicated off-site, whether in Barracuda Cloud Storage or in a remote Barracuda Backup appliance, means your data is protected from even severe disasters.

Barracuda Networks for K-12 IT Security

Every day, communities entrust the safety and privacy of their children to local K-12 educators, administrators, and support staff. And every day, schools around the world entrust their students’ online security to Barracuda.

Barracuda has a long-standing commitment to helping you fulfill your security responsibilities efficiently and cost-effectively.

From award-winning cloud-based backup solutions, to NextGen firewalls in multiple configurations, to advanced filtering technology to protect both online and on-premises email and network infrastructures, Barracuda solutions help you prevent ransomware surprises and keep other advanced malware away from your network—and away from your community’s children.

Training and Awareness

Teaching users to spot and avoid malicious emails is critical. Excellent resources exist to help you create an ageappropriate security curriculum.

Ensure all users understand the following key practices:

  • Don’t open unexpected email, even if it comes from a trusted source.
  • Learn to spot red flags:
    • Unexpected grammar or spelling errors
    • Odd, middle-of-the-night time of sending
    • Typosquatting, in which the “From” domain looks legitimate at first glance, but is actually slightly misspelled.
    • Links to suspicious URLs. (Hover over the link to see the true URL.)
  • When in doubt, delete!
  • Barracuda Sentinel includes automated anti-fraud training that periodically sends simulated fraudulent emails to your users, focusing on those identified as high-risk by Sentinel’s AI engine. When they click on the “malicious” email, they are directed to a training page designed to improve their security awareness.