2024 State of Malware in Education report: Top 6 cyberthreats facing K-12 and Higher Ed

Educational institutions may face a range of cyberthreats in 2024, but our 2024 State of Malware in Education report identifies the six most critical ones.

Ransomware, for example, stands out as a key threat for schools and universities. The report covers how last year, we witnessed a 92% increase in ransomware attacks in K-12 schools and a 70% increase in Higher Education. The trend appears set to continue, partly due to specialized ransomware groups like Rhysida (formerly Vice Society) targeting educational sectors.  

CORP SOR Education Blog Graph1
Education ransomware attacks, 2022 – 2023

Another major threat our 2024 State of Malware in Education covers is the reduction of conventional malware in favor of Living off The Land (LOTL) attacks. LOTL attacks exploit legitimate system tools to remain undetected while conducting harmful activities.

Our report suggests that educational institutions must employ expert staff to manually identify LOTL activities, which traditional malware detection tools miss. For example, we recently wrote how one K-12 district used MDR to uncover malicious PowerShell activity and stop an ongoing infection.

Some other trends and threats educational institutions can expect in the report to cover include:

  • Why targeting Macs has become an easy choice for criminals 
  • How CL0P is rewriting the ransomware playbook and why Big Game ransomware remains the most serious threat.
  • How cybercriminals use ‘malvertising’ to target educational institutions with malicious ads for popular for remote learning such as Zoom. 

As we progress into 2024, the reality is that educational institutions’ success in pairing state of the art security software with skilled security staff will be a deciding factor in their ability to take down the most serious cyberthreats. 

To understand the complete list of threats facing educational institutions in 2024 and how to tackle them, get the full 2024 State of Malware in Education report—tailored to either K-12 or Higher Ed—below.