Ala. Education Dept: Schools vulnerable to cyber attacks

State warning schools to be aware of cyber attacks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Schools are vulnerable targets for hackers, according to the Alabama State Department of Education.

David Pope, who is the IT Director for Information Systems at the Department of Education, said there have been five or six schools that faced cyber attacks in 2019 so far.

Pope said an attack can stop entire schools from functioning. For instance, the websites shut down, teachers can’t check grades and schools can’t sell lunches.

“They know they are easier targets than most corporate networks because they don’t have the staff to properly protect them," Pope said.

Pope said it’s up to a school’s budget to hire IT personnel, implement security training, and update computers. All of these in which should help stop cyber attacks.

“The reason for the increased attacks is that people are looking for the money. They know the school systems have a budget. They know they are state and federally funded," he said. "So they are always going to go after the money. You always have to follow the money.”

But Pope said the majority of Alabama schools do not have the budget to afford these preventative measures. He explains that the state education department also does not have money to protect each school.

Even with this, he said the department is encouraging districts to make cybersecurity a top priority.

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