The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and MS-ISAC are warning that ransomware attacks targeting schools across the country are expected to increase in the next year.
"The FBI, CISA, and the MS-ISAC anticipate attacks may increase as the 2022/2023 school year begins and criminal ransomware groups perceive opportunities for successful attacks," the groups warned in a joint bulletin.
"K-12 institutions may be seen as particularly lucrative targets due to the amount of sensitive student data accessible through school systems or their managed service providers," they added.
The agencies said that Vice Society, a new ransomware group, is "disproportionately targeting the education sector."
Officials warned that smaller school districts with limited resources and weak cybersecurity protections are the most vulnerable to attack.
"School districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and constrained resources are often the most vulnerable; however, the opportunistic targeting often seen with cybercriminals can still put school districts with robust cybersecurity programs at risk," the group added.
The warning comes as the second-largest school district in the country was victimized by a ransomware attack. Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District said that the attack caused a "significant disruption" but did not result in school closures.
According to NBC News, there have been 26 ransomware attacks targeting schools in 2022, with seven of the attacks happening in the past month.