The L.A. Unified School District is Right: The most recent cyberattack on public schools is unprecedented

Op-Ed: The cyberattack on Los Angeles schools could happen anywhere

This week, Los Angeles Unified released a report titled “The L.A. Unified Report on Digital Information Security in the Public School: Lessons Learned from Recent Threats.” As always, we’ll read through it, but I thought the most important point might be the one the school district is making here:

…the threats we have experienced at the school system have been directed online or via other electronic means. When one is faced with one’s worst enemy, the cyberthreat may be an old dog who just doesn’t like you anymore. So let’s be honest: It has been almost 15 years since the L.A. Unified School District and its predecessor have faced a cyberattack of any proportion.

L.A. Unified is right. The most recent cyberattack against public school systems was in 2004 and the following year the school board adopted new policies, which took a significant step in protecting schools from online threats, and the district hasn’t had any more since.

At the time, a study was made at two of the district’s elementary schools — which were chosen because of poor cyberprotection at the time — and the researchers concluded that a second attack wasn’t possible because the school district had been taking steps to protect itself.

The school district is right: the last major cyberattack on public schools was only seven months ago, which had nothing to do with the school district’s new cyberprotection policies. The most recent cyberattack against schools also happened on Sept. 1, but the district’s new cybersecurity measures worked.

There’s one other point I want to make about this most recent attack that’s worth noting. The attack on Los Angeles schools is unprecedented. For instance:

The attack originated in Russia, but the attackers used a Russian language server called a proxy server, and the server had already been set up a week before the attack. The L.A. school district has never had to deal with a cyberattack this severe before.

Moreover, the

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