theDocumentId => 1338854 DDoS Attacks on Education Escalate in 2020

Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

03:55 PM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
Quick Hits
Connect Directly

DDoS Attacks on Education Escalate in 2020

The number of DDoS attacks affecting educational resources was far higher between February and June 2020 compared with 2019.

Education has become a prime target for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks as more schools rely on distance learning to stop the spread of COVID-19. Researchers also report a rise in phishing pages and emails, as well as threats disguised as online learning platforms and apps.

The Kaspersky research team analyzed and compared DDoS attacks that affected educational resources out of the total number of DDoS attacks registered by its DDoS Intelligence System for the first quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. They discovered that the number of DDoS attacks affecting education grew by 550% in January 2020 compared with January 2019.

Related Content:

New Campaign Combines Extortion, DDoS

Don't Forget Cybersecurity on Your Back-to-School List

And the trend didn't stop there: For each month from February to June, the number of DDoS attacks affecting educational resources was 350% to 500% greater in 2020 compared with the same month in 2019. DDoS attacks have increased overall in the first quarter of this year, the researchers report, a trend that can be largely attributed to more attacks on e-learning services.

Between January and June 2020, the number of unique users who faced threats disguised as popular online learning platforms or videoconferencing apps reached 168,550. Researchers combed threat data for malicious activity containing the names of popular learning platforms and applications such as Moodle, a common learning management system (LMS), as well as Blackboard, Zoom, Google Classroom, Cousera, edX, and Google Meet. 

They weren't surprised to see phishing attacks increase as schools adopted distance learning models. Phishing websites for popular platforms Google Classroom and Zoom began to appear as the pandemic continued; some pages were registered for Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. People who land on these may be tricked into clicking malicious links or entering credentials.

It's common to see criminals send phishing emails related to learning platforms. Attackers will tell users they had missed a meeting, class was canceled, or they had to activate an account. Sometimes they'll redirect to a malicious website where victims are prompted to download an application but end up with malware or adware on their machine. The most popular platform lure in 2020 was Zoom, with 167,657 of threats disguised as coming from the video platform.

For many cybercriminals targeting the educational sector, account access is only the first step. They can use those credentials to launch spam or phishing attacks, or gain access to other accounts belonging to the same individual, if that person reuses passwords across accounts. Many universities have their own platforms for students and faculty to access academic resources; cybercriminals have been seen creating phishing pages tailored to specific schools.


Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-28
Dell EMC Isilon OneFS supported versions 8.1 and later and Dell EMC PowerScale OneFS supported version 9.0.0 contain an access issue with the remotesupport user account. A remote malicious user with low privileges may gain access to data stored on the /ifs directory through most protocols.
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-28
Deserialization of Untrusted Data Vulnerability Dell EMC Avamar Server versions 7.4.1, 7.5.0, 7.5.1, 18.2, 19.1 and 19.2 and Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance versions 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.4.1 contain a Deserialization of Untrusted Data Vulnerability. A remote unauthenticated ...
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-28
Dell EMC Data Protection Advisor versions 6.4, 6.5 and 18.1 contain an undocumented account with limited privileges that is protected with a hard-coded password. A remote unauthenticated malicious user with the knowledge of the hard-coded password may login to the system and gain read-only privilege...
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
Discourse is an open source discussion platform. In versions prior to 2.7.7 there are two bugs which led to the post creator of a whisper post being revealed to non-staff users. 1: Staff users that creates a whisper post in a personal message is revealed to non-staff participants of the personal mes...
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
xmldom is an open source pure JavaScript W3C standard-based (XML DOM Level 2 Core) DOMParser and XMLSerializer module. xmldom versions 0.6.0 and older do not correctly escape special characters when serializing elements removed from their ancestor. This may lead to unexpected syntactic changes durin...