Safeguard your educational institution’s data and rebound swiftly from a ransomware attack with secure backups and a fast recovery platform.


Ransomware attacks are top of mind for IT leaders at educational institutions—and for good reason. There’s been an alarming increase in ransomware attacks targeting universities, colleges, and schools. A 2024 report on The State of Ransomware in Education found that Ransomware attacks targeting these institutions increased dramatically in 2023, with K-12 schools seeing a major spike in these incidents. The education sector overall experienced an astounding 70% increase in attacks in the past year. 

In 2023, nearly half (43%) of ransomware attacks in the education sector were directed at higher education institutions, while 36% of the attacks were aimed at K-!2 schools. Every ransomware attack against an educational institution further underscores the need for the education sector to take a proactive stance toward defending against these debilitating cybersecurity incidents. Ransomware attacks can compromise access to an institution’s lifeblood—its data—and potentially lead to:

  • Exposure and loss of student and personnel data
  • Disruption of remote learning and operations
  • The inability to access information
  • Negative impacts on critical research
  • Reputational damage
  • Financial loss
  • Productivity loss

As ransomware attacks become more sophisticated and frequent, they’re also becoming more costly. Recovery costs (excluding any ransoms paid) for higher educational organizations that paid the ransom were $1.31 million and for primary and secondary educational organizations, the average recovery costs were $2.18 million. Some schools have spent far more than that, even if they managed to avoid paying a ransom.

That alone can be a body blow to the budget of resource-strapped institutions, especially if they don’t have cyber insurance. (Given the rising costs and complexity of securing that coverage, many don’t.)

The ransomware recovery process can also be painfully slow. For K-12 schools, the interruption to learning following a cyberattack ranges from three days to three weeks, while the recovery period from the attack can extend anywhere from two to nine months. A significant number of colleges and universities (40 percent) required more than a month to recover fully from a ransomware attack.

Knowledge Is Power: Current Measures May Not Be Enough

Nonprofit EDUCAUSE, in its 2024 Top 10 IT Issues, identified the need to make cybersecurity, ranking number one on the list, a core competency. It emphasized the importance of colleges and universities reducing their exposure to cyber risks because they’re handling larger volumes of data than ever before. Locking and encrypting critical data is, of course, a key aim of ransomware attackers.

While EDUCAUSE’s recommendations are targeted toward higher ed, any organization in the educational sector can benefit from understanding its cyber risk exposure and stepping up its defenses. There’s a strong chance that the measures you use now aren’t enough to sideline motivated attackers.

For example, you may view your current backup systems as an insurance policy against major disruptions like a ransomware attack. But that is false confidence. The fact is that ransomware attackers can breach your backups, too. They’ll encrypt or delete your backup data to undermine your ability to restore your systems and data without paying a ransom. It’s their insurance policy to help them realize a return on their investment.

If both your source and backup data were compromised, what would you do? How would your educational institution recover? With secure backups and a fast recovery platform, you can safeguard your data and rebound swiftly from a ransomware attack. Pure Storage® can cover you on both fronts.

  • FlashBlade//S™ provides a super-fast, scale-out file and object storage platform that supports rapid backup and recovery—helping you cut downtime and accelerate data access. Plus, the platform’s unique modular storage architecture can help your institution advance its sustainability goals with flexible consumption options that use less power and reduce waste.
  • Secure, native SafeMode™ Snapshots are a built-in feature of the Purity operating environment that powers FlashBlade® and FlashArray™. They run automatically, protecting backup data and metadata. No one—not even a storage admin—can delete or encrypt them. That means your data remains secure even if credentials are compromised. SafeMode also works with leading data protection solutions, so there’s no need to change your backup software or stop using native database utilities. And like all Pure Storage solutions, it has simplicity at its core. You can set it and forget it.

Educational institutions must become more resilient overall so that they can meet today’s technology challenges head-on, including cybersecurity risks like ransomware. Whether your institution is a major research university, a college, or a K-12 school system, you can increase resilience, outsmart bad actors, protect your data, and preserve your bottom line with ransomware solutions from Pure Storage.