Schools have suddenly become one of the most popular targets for cyber attackers throughout the epidemic. This is unsurprising, given that many districts are constrained by funds and have been forced to accelerate the deployment of new digital technology, raising the danger of a successful breach or cyber assault. To guarantee the safety of kids, staff, parents, and administrators in this new normal, school leaders must understand how to respond appropriately to these threats.
We’ll look at the top reasons why school district administrators should prioritize cyber security. “The transition to remote learning opens the door for new areas of assault that most school systems aren’t equipped to handle.”
For network security problems, districts and technology executives may be held accountable, and the consequences of these accidents can be exceedingly expensive. Families whose data was stolen by a data leak may sue district tech officials as individuals. This is why school districts should consider purchasing cyber security insurance.
However, financial and legal challenges aren’t the only ones that might arise because of a data breach. Teachers are unable to continue their usual classroom sessions when commercial activities come to a standstill, which is a huge liability usually. Students miss out on key learning opportunities as teachers’ timetables are pushed back.
Here’s a rundown of some of the standards that schools must meet: FERPA, COPPA, CIPA, PPRA, and GDPR are all examples of privacy laws. It starts to appear like alphabet soup when we look at these statutes. So, how do you balance all of these complicated rules while implementing cyber security in schools?
The important thing is to designate someone to remain on top of all of these shifting standards and guidelines. Appoint a data protection officer, for example, or make your CTO the lead person. Have that individual keep you updated and notify the community about how you’re staying compliant.
You’ll also want this individual to make sure that any programs or applications installed by instructors fit all of the standards. Teachers may attempt to use any tool they can find to aid them with their online teaching, which extends the attack surface. With so many districts participating in distance learning, teachers may try to use any tool they can find to assist them with their online teaching, which widens the attack surface.
When the district’s network or district data is hacked, the district’s and the technology leader’s reputations are tarnished. Network breaches are frequently the subject of media attention, resulting in major public relations disasters and widespread reputational damage. It just takes one event to garner media attention for people to begin questioning your educational legitimacy.
People now expect superintendents and school districts to be perfect regarding cyber security, leaving little space for mistakes. Leaders may greatly improve their chances of keeping a spotless image by making cyber security for schools a top focus.
Learning and Educating
Schools lose valuable instructional hours when the network is down, as in the case of a successful Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Teachers who are ready to employ technology in the classroom should locate and use non-digital materials.
The reality is that when networks go down, or even specific services or apps go down, teachers are pushed to their limits. If a lesson wasn’t going as planned in the traditional classroom, you simply gathered the children and did a read-aloud or collaborative group work. Now, if the network goes down, you won’t be able to continue teaching, and you’ll lose a lot of critical teaching time.
Digital Student Records
Student records that have been compromised may have been intentionally altered, affecting students’ future college applications or career opportunities. When kids’ identities are stolen throughout their primary or secondary school years, no one is likely to notice until they apply for college financial help. These problems are more likely to occur when school administrators do not take cyber security seriously.
Students’ geolocation and addresses must also be protected by schools. You don’t want that information to get into the wrong hands, putting your pupils in danger, especially if they come from violent homes, domestic violence situations, or are in witness protection programs.
You must not only be secure when dealing with digital information, but you must also guarantee that suppliers that handle student records follow basic security measures.
Phishing attacks were reported in 60% of educational institutions in 2020. DDoS attacks, ransomware attacks, and business email compromise attacks are all on the rise. The figures for all forms of attacks in the education sector might get worse in 2021.
Choose strong passwords
Choosing a strong password makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to break into institutional accounts and portals. Creating passwords based on non-dictionary words with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols will reduce the likelihood of a successful hacking attempt. Enabling multi-factor authentication for remote access to your network is also very important.
Recommendations for Students and Teachers on Cyber Security
Students, instructors, and staff in an educational setting require access to a combination of education and IT security solutions to increase information security. Here are some helpful hints for keeping your systems secure during the school year:
1. Make sure your software is up to date.
Updating software regularly reduces weaknesses that hackers can use to launch ransomware attacks. Patching your software and gadgets prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to your systems.
2. Put anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer.
You may use anti-malware and anti-virus software to prevent malware and other harmful software from infecting school computers. To strengthen your security, look for solutions that include automated updates, malware scanning, and anti-phishing help.
3. Participating in security awareness training.
Security awareness training and phishing awareness training for employees and professors will assist them to gain the skills needed to recognize phishing and social engineering efforts as cyber threats evolve. If you are a research institution, you may wish to provide training to your students.
4. Appoint internal cyber security ambassadors
Appoint a group of volunteers who are interested in cyber security as ambassadors and implement a training and mentoring program to help them gain a better understanding of threats and best practices. Once these initial participants have received certification, track their progress to identify areas where they might improve.
5. Do not open attachments or click on email links.
Clicking on email links or opening attachments from unknown senders is a security concern since clicking on an ill-intentioned email link or attachment can lead to malware installation. Before clicking on anything, staff and faculty should be reminded to check if the sender is legitimate.
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