What is the Most Common Cyber Attack in Schools?

Cyber threats are an escalating concern in primary and secondary schools. A recent study revealed that educational institutions are more susceptible to cyber security incidents than the average UK business, with a significant number of schools experiencing substantial repercussions. 

In the past year alone, about 10% of primary schools and 33% of secondary schools have encountered financial losses, data theft, or compromised accounts due to cyber attacks. As cyber security slowly climbs the priority list for school leaders, these statistics suggest a pressing need for awareness and action regarding safeguarding measures. 

But what are the most common cyber attacks a school can face? Let’s take a look…


Phishing attacks deceive recipients into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or financial details, by masquerading as trustworthy entities. Schools, with their vast databases of personal information, present lucrative targets for cybercriminals. These attacks often take the form of emails or messages that appear legitimate, tricking educators, staff, and students into compromising security protocols.

Why schools?

Schools hold a wealth of sensitive data, from personal information about students and staff to financial records. This makes them attractive targets for cybercriminals looking to exploit such data for malicious purposes. Unfortunately, educational institutions often lack the robust cybersecurity defenses found in other sectors, making them more susceptible to attacks.

What is the impact of phishing?

The consequences of phishing attacks in schools can be severe, ranging from the loss of critical data to financial theft and identity fraud. What’s more, these attacks can disrupt the educational process, leading to downtime and a loss of trust within the school community.

girl using a computer


Malware, or malicious software, covers various forms of harmful software designed to infiltrate, damage, or disable computers, systems, and networks. From viruses and worms to ransomware and spyware, malware comes in many different guises, each with unique traits and destructive capabilities. This can include:

Viruses and worms

These self-replicating threats spread across networks and devices, corrupting files and exhausting system resources.


This form of malware locks users out of their systems or encrypts files, demanding a ransom for their release.


Software designed to stealthily monitor and collect user data, spyware poses significant privacy threats.

Why schools?

Schools, with their expansive network of computers and a wide range of users from students to staff, are particularly vulnerable to malware attacks. The often outdated or unsupported technology used in educational settings makes it easier for malware to infiltrate systems. The frequent exchange of files and links among students and teachers, typically without stringent security checks, increases the risk of malware spreading.

What is the impact of malware?

The consequences of a malware infection can be devastating, ranging from compromised personal and financial information to widespread system failures and data loss. In a worst-case scenario, the repercussions can extend to legal liabilities, reputational damage, and significant financial losses.

cyber security in schools


Formjacking involves the injection of malicious code into online forms on websites. When unsuspecting users fill out these forms, the malicious code captures their inputted information—be it credit card details, personal identification, or login credentials—and transmits it to the attackers.

Cybercriminals execute formjacking attacks by exploiting vulnerabilities in websites, allowing them to insert malicious JavaScript code into the site's forms. This code lies in wait, undetected, for users to input their information, which it then captures and sends to a server under the control of the attackers.

Why schools?

Educational institutions often have multiple online systems for admissions, tuition payments, and more, making them prime targets for formjacking. Schools may not always have the latest security measures in place, due to budget constraints or limited IT resources, which leaves their online forms vulnerable. The sheer volume of transactions and data handled by these forms increases the potential payoff for cybercriminals.

What is the impact of formjacking?

The impact of formjacking on schools can be particularly damaging. By intercepting personal and financial data, attackers can commit fraud or sell the information on the black market. This can lead to significant financial losses for individuals affected and damage the school’s reputation as a safe environment. Recovery from such attacks can also be costly and time-consuming, diverting funds from educational programs.

How can we help?

With cyber threats on the rise in schools, safeguarding against cyber attacks has never been more important. Here at Computeam, we understand the unique challenges schools face in defending their systems against malicious actors. 

Through Computeam Secure, our comprehensive cybersecurity solutions are tailored to the specific needs of your school, offering robust protection against phishing, malware, and any other common cyber threats. Whether it’s implementing advanced threat detection measures or providing ongoing security training for staff and students, we can strengthen your school's defences and ensure a safe digital learning environment. If you’d like to find out more about how Computeam can help safeguard your school's systems and data, please get in touch.

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Posted on April 30th 2024

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