*As remote learning and employment have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, so have cyberattacks by criminals holding data hostage for a ransom.
One recent target was Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, the 12th-largest school district in the U.S. The scope of the attack on the district’s technology systems is not yet known, a Sept. 12 statement from the district said.
“If it is determined in the course of our investigation that personal information has been compromised, we will take steps to notify affected individuals as appropriate,” the district said, adding that the FBI was investigating.
The Fairfax County case is one of at least 219 attacks nationwide this year affecting school districts, governments, and other businesses and organizations, according to Brett Callow, a threat analyst for anti-malware company Emsisoft.
An email to Lucy Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the district, was not returned. A message could not be left with the media relations office because the voicemail was full.
The frequency of attacks underscores how organizations have struggled to contend with ransomware, a form of malware that makes files and systems inaccessible until a ransom is paid.
“We’re seeing attacks grow at an extraordinary rate,” Terry Oehring, the CEO of cybersecurity firm Solis Security, said in an email. “Unfortunately, a lot of the breach cases are due to a lack of basic controls that everyone should have in place by now. With a basic amount of security hygiene, I believe that many of the successful attacks would not have occurred.”
Schools are an active target because they’ve moved to virtual learning and have not invested in safeguards, Oehring said. Smaller companies are in similar circumstances, he added.
“Smaller businesses often think they won’t be the target of an attack, yet we’re seeing an increasing frequency of them being compromised,” Oehring said. “Due to lack of security awareness and the absence of basic controls, they often make for easy targets.”
Ransomware attacks have been one of the top reasons for cyber-insurance claims filed in the first half of 2020, according to a recent report published by Coalition, a cyber-insurance company. The attacks accounted for 41% of claims, according to data based on findings from 25,000 small and medium-sized companies in the U.S. and Canada. Exploitation of remote access during the pandemic was found to be the “root cause” of ransomware incidents.
Coalition reported a 47% increase in ransom demand among its policyholders from the first quarter of the year to the second. The average ransom demand from April to June was nearly $350,000, the report said.
Newer strains of ransomware, Maze and DoppelPaymer, are more complex, allowing cyber-criminals to demand higher ransoms, the report said.
The Maze cybercriminal gang claimed responsibility on its website for the attack on Fairfax County Public Schools and uploaded a zip file of data it claims was stolen from the district, InfoSecurity Magazine reports. The threat group’s website has since been taken down.
The pandemic may be accelerating the frequency of cyberattacks and ransom demands, but they are not new. The City of Baltimore came under attack in May 2019 when its computer systems were compromised by the ransomware RobbinHood. Other cities, including Atlanta and Pensacola, Fla., have also been affected.
The FBI received more than 2,000 ransomware complaints in 2019, resulting in adjusted losses of nearly $9 million, up from nearly 1,500 victims who told the FBI about $3.6 million in losses the previous year.
FBI Director Christopher Wray urged the private sector to be proactive about cyber attacks in a speech last week at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency cybersecurity summit in Washington, D.C.
“Agents in every single FBI field office spend a huge amount of time going out to companies and universities in their area, establishing relationships before there’s a problem, and providing threat intelligence to help prepare defenses,” he said. “We might not be able to tell you precisely how we knew you were in trouble — but we can usually find a way to tell you what you need to know to prepare for, or stop, an attack.”
(Edited by Ron Panarotti and Emily Crockett)
NBC Relaunches ‘Saved By The Bell’ on Peacock TV
*When your favorite tv show goes off the air do you think about the lives of their characters?
Wondering where would they be now, what would they be up to now? “Saved By The Bell” fans will get those answers in the relaunch of the show on NBC’s Peacock.
A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) is a PE teacher and coach and Bayside and Jessie Spano ( Elizabeth Berkely) is a counselor at the school. What is Zack Morris (Marc-Paul Grosselaar) doing, well he is the governor of California, of course, Zack Morris became a politician. And as we saw in the wedding special “Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Vegas” he and Kelly Kapowski got married. They now of a son, Mac Morris who is attending their high school alma mater Bayside High. Mac Morris, played by Mitchell Hoog, seems like a Zack Morris 2.0. He is the popular kid at school who finds himself living in the shadow of his infamous father.
We talked with Mitchell Hoog about his role as Mac Morris and if he himself felt any pressure playing Zack Morris’ son.
“ I don’t think I felt pressure to live up to the legacy of the Morris name, me as an actor I always put it within the story. So within the storyline, I have pressure to live up to my dad,” says Hoog.
Mitchell Hoog’s character isn’t the only character following in their parents’ footsteps. Jamie Spano, played by Belmont Cameli, is Jessie Spano’s (Elizabeth Berkely) son who also has to live up to his mom’s high school reputation.
This reboot’s main focus is the new generation but having the original cast be so a large part of the show brings enough nostalgia for old fans to enjoy this new version of “Saved By The Bell.” It is said that the whole season is full of little Easter eggs that fans of the original should pick up on.
Don’t miss “Saved By The Bell” streaming on Peacock from November 25.
Actors Dexter Darden and Belmont Cameli Talk About Their Roles in The New Saved By The Bell
*The 90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell” is returning to TV. The revised Saturday morning favorite will be airing on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.
The show will focus on a new generation of Bayside High students along with some old favorites. Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is now the governor of California and come under heat as he is blamed for the closing of many low-income schools. To rectify the situation he proposes those students attend Bayside High.
The transferred students find themselves adjusting to being out of their element, while the Bayside students try to play nice and make room for the new kids. We spoke with Dexter Darden and Belmont Cameli about their characters.
“It really is important to show that just where you are doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’re going to go. For Devante to come to Bayside and meet Jamie Spano and Mac Morris and have the opportunity to interact with all these kids who aren’t like him and not what he’s used to, it’s really special,” is what Dexter had to say about his character Devante.
Belmont Camelin plays Jamie who is the son of Jessie Spano, played by Elizabeth Berkley. As a true fan of the original, you have to wonder if the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree? Is Jessie’s son a passionate outspoken book worm kind of kid? Well only somewhat according to Belmont:
“I don’t think he’s as strong about his academics but he’s certainly passionate and he’s a very expressive person. His mom has made him very aware of his feelings and relationships,” says Belmont.
Not only was Jessie a straight-A student she was also vocal about anything she felt wasn’t right, so it’ll be interesting to see her son be just as vocal as the show covers topics that the 90’s version didn’t cover.
Check out the new generation of “Saved By The Bell” November 25 on Peacock.
TRAILER DEBUT: ‘MLK/FBI’ | Directed By Emmy Award-Winner Sam Pollard | Opens January 15
*SYNOPSIS: MLK/FBI is an essential expose of the surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (labeled by the FBI as the “most dangerous” Black person in America), undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government.
Based on newly discovered and declassified files, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists.
Directed by Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI recounts a tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment.
DIRECTOR: Sam Pollard is an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated director and producer. His films for HBO,PBS, and the Discovery Channel include the documentaries Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Slavery by Another Name, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, ACORN and the Firestorm, Why We Hate, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Pollard also directed two episodes of the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize II. Since 1994 Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and lives in New York City.
RIVETING. A timely reminder that King’s struggle for racial justice wasn’t straightforward, nor is it close to complete.” – THE ATLANTIC, David Sims
“An engrossing, unsettling documentary. Rigorously focused on the facts of the past, the movie is also as timely as an alarm clock.”- THE NEW YORK TIMES, A.O. Scott
“SEARING. Serves as a chilling reminder that white supremacy is not solely a partisan problem; it’s a cruelty baked into the fabric of our political system, poisoning it at every level. Change comes when we allow ourselves to challenge the stories we have been told about our history.” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Jourdain Searles
Director: Sam Pollard
Producer: Benjamin Hedin
Executive Producers: David Friend, Charlotte Cook, Jeffrey Lurie, Marie Therese Guirgis, Kate Hurwitz, Dana O’Keefe, and Steven Farneth
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
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