Is your school ready to reopen safely? You may think so, especially if you have health and safety protocols in place such as hand sanitizing stations, mask guidance, social distancing guidelines, or even vaccine requirements. But a safe school environment offers more than just physical safety.
Cyberattacks aimed at school districts have increased by 18% in just one year since the coronavirus pandemic began, in part due to a shift to remote learning and the fact that schools are adopting new technologies at a rapid pace, without fully understanding the risks. What’s worse is that cybercriminals are improving their methods, making it more difficult for students and educators to recognize scams.
Schools that want to focus on the complete safety — digital and physical — of their students and staff must consider deploying smart cybersecurity protocols to prevent attacks and secure data.
Cybersecurity for Educational Organizations: What You Need to Know
Today’s schools have so much on their plates — they must keep their students and staff safe from trespassers, health threats, and now data theft or loss. And they must do this while managing to provide a high-quality, enriching learning environment of historically small budgets.
Let’s take a look at cybersecurity issues being faced by schools and outline steps to help protect against them:
- Why Are Hackers Targeting Schools?
Schools are desirable targets for cybercriminals in part because of the large amount of sensitive data they process such as social security numbers, medical, records, financial data, and other personally identifiable information. And, organizations focused on higher education often have valuable research or intellectual property resident on their network.
Other reasons include schools’ open access philosophy that allow information to be accessed easily and freely shared and because schools typically operate on old or outdated systems, making it easy for hackers to gain access to data.
- What Techniques are Being Used to Gain Access to Data?
Cybercriminals use a number of techniques to gain access to schools’ data, including:
- Shutting down systems or blocking data until a ransom is paid.
- Identifying vulnerabilities in a network with password-cracking algorithms to gain access and extract data.
- Using emails to persuade users to give up information or click on malicious links.
- Disguising communications to seem as if they are from a trusted person or business entity in order to persuade victims to release information.
Of course, hackers are always evolving new methods of attack, so partnering with competent providers who understand cybersecurity can help you keep abreast of threat scenarios.
- How Can Schools Protect Themselves from Cyberthreats?
Fortunately, schools have several strategies at their fingertips to help detect and prevent threats before they become a problem. Consider these:
Invest in continual monitoring for early detection — Ensure you have up-to-date threat detection tools installed that monitor your IT ecosystem for suspicious activity, alert you to problems, and immediately begin to defuse the threat.
Have an established security policy — Each school should develop a formal IT security policy that outlines good IT hygiene and best practices to keep data safe. Staff and students should all be routinely educated on your policy to ensure they fully understand it — and their part in keeping data protected.
Work with competent third-party partners — Many schools have small budgets and overworked IT departments, making it difficult to stay on top of trending threats. Make sure all your IT services vendors can help you keep protection high, while controlling costs for a healthier bottom line.
Trust Doing Better Business for Cybersecurity You Can Count On
At Doing Better Business, we understand security. We stay up to date on the technology we provide to ensure you school is not vulnerable to attacks.
We also work with leading, local IT experts who can help assess your current infrastructure for vulnerabilities and weaknesses, develop a cost-effective strategy to manage issues, and deploy a custom-created plan to help keep your school — and the data you handle — safer.
Be prepared for a truly safe reopening. Contact a representative from Doing Better Business and learn how our Managed Services Team and Partners can provide leading-edge cybersecurity tools for your educational organization.