As data breaches and cybersecurity threats become commonplace, cyber security in schools is fast becoming a priority to ensure the safety of students and their online data.
It’s important to note here that the education sector is significantly lagging behind other organizations and industries that face similar cybersecurity threats.
The trouble is that cybercriminals know that schools have a wealth of personal and financial data but limited resources to protect it – making all that information easily accessible for those with malicious intent. This explains why school cyber attacks are on the rise.
In fact, the Education Industry Cyber Incidents Report for 2018 shows that, on average, 3 million records are stolen every year from schools and other educational institutions. And, that number is only expected to rise in the future.
The Importance Of Cyber Security For Schools
From home addresses of employees and students to parents’ bank credentials (often required for fees collection) to admission applications, and so on — educational institutions have a lot on their servers.
This information is more like a sitting duck for cybercriminals.
Some common threats include:
Cyber attackers can often get assistance from unsuspecting employees, students, and faculty. Here’s how that happens:
Phishing Emails: Their go-to move is to send seemingly legitimate emails to staff. These emails may hide viruses as innocuous files and downloadables that look harmless, but it only takes a click to activate them. And those who fall for the bait end up giving access to private information, files, folders, etc.
DDoS Attacks: DDoS attacks are carried out by flooding the school’s servers with a lot of traffic. This overwhelms the target and gives the attackers a clear way to the information in there.
Ransomware Attacks: This is a form of malware that impacts the systems by encrypting the data on the server. A ransom has to be paid to get the decryption key.
Some students may decide to outsmart the system and attack their school server. They may do this to:
- Gain examination scripts if on the server
- Delay course registration
- Delay fee payments
- Delay Exams, etc.
Everyone on campus and off can access school servers. Protecting remote access points is essential. Sure, you may have secured your net to reduce risks of school cyber attacks, but is the off-campus connection any safer? Are the devices that are used to access free from malware, and are you sure they cannot be used as a backdoor to your server?
Improving Cyber Educational Security
Now that you know why cybersecurity in education is so critical, let’s discuss how to have a rounded policy in place to prevent potential cyberattacks.
- Here is how you establish a program to enhance cyber security in schools:
- Prioritize your assets, those with a high priority status should be secured first
- Then figure out all the potential risks, and find a way to prevent them
- Evaluate the status of your current cybersecurity profile
- Make a note of all risks you face, and see if the current system is capable of handling these issues if they arise
- Create a target profile to see what risks you want to put to rest, and what changes are required to do so
- Compare the current and target profile — understand the gaps, i.e., what you have vs. what you need
- Plan how to fill these gaps, start by focusing on areas where the threat level is the highest, and then move towards less critical tasks
- Now you have the intended goal of your new and improved holistic cybersecurity strategy, so begin implementation
Sounds Daunting? Let CRA Help!
If you have a lot on your plate, and cybersecurity seems like a massive challenge, give us a call. The qualified tech staff at Computer Resources of America has experience and expertise in helping businesses up their cybersecurity game.
We know that cyber security in schools should never be taken lightly, which is why our experts are ready to deal with all internal and external threats that may lurk around your institution.
For more than 25 years, we have been providing managed IT solutions and support in New York, and you can count on us for managed IT services, cloud solutions, consultancy, and staffing.
To know more about our services for cybersecurity in education, click here!
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