The nation saw a 105% surge in cyberattacks in 2021, according to Fortune. Hacks have hit health care, higher education, governments, private and public businesses.

"There's always a steady occurrence and there's ebbs and flows it's just a matter of what industry or industries seem to be the target of the month if you will,” said Dan Kalil, CEO of GreyCastle Security.

Since 2016, 1,331 school districts across the U.S. disclosed they had been the target of a cyber incident according to data provided by K12 Security Information Exchange. They estimate the number could be 10 to 20 times higher when accounting for the cyber incidents that aren’t disclosed.

In 2021, Buffalo Public Schools, Hudson City, Troy and Guilderland Central were among the school districts added to that list.

In Guilderland, taxpayers recently approved next year’s budget which includes an additional $155,000 to ramp up network security.

"We think of traditional line items like transportation and sports and other types of offerings that a school district has,” said Kalil. “Cybersecurity is something new, so it's natural to question it."

Through his work with GreyCastle Security, Kalil has been working with organizations to protect themselves for 11 years.

In 2020 when the pandemic caused districts to quickly switch to remote learning, he said they became especially susceptible to hacks.

"You created hundreds or thousands of new access or entry points into the school district and that alone has increased the average school districts network footprint,” said Kalil.

Coupled with the critical services schools provide and the sensitive information their systems store and Kalil said schools are a hot target.

Kalil said what hackers do with that information is unpredictable – often, holding a district virtually hostage and preventing them from functioning until they pay a ransom.

Ultimately, it's the students and employees that could pay the highest price.

"The information itself has value to criminals,” said Kalil. “It's your personal information that can be resold and used for the purpose of identity theft."

Developing a cyber security program differs depending on a district's size and their current technology, so, Kalil said the price varies.

But just like teacher salaries and transportation, school cybersecurity is a cost he doesn't expect to go away.

"I think it'll not only stick around, I think it'll increase,” said Kalil. “It's important that school districts look at themselves as businesses just like any other entity thats out there and treat cybersecurity appropriately."