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Is your school cybersecurity a little bit lacking? There are potential security pitfalls hiding in your technology that could put private information at serious risk.
Schools are becoming the victim of cyberattacks at an alarming rate, with 122 schools experiencing an incident in 2018 and dozens of attacks so far in 2019. Hackers are equal-opportunity when it comes to schools, with schools suffering from everything from phishing scams and ransomware to denial of service attacks. Perhaps what’s most frightening is that experts believe that these reported attacks are only a small portion of the attacks that actually occurred. Data collection is one of the core requirements of schools, as they need to be able to understand their school communities and contact parents at a moment’s notice. That means there is a wealth of information stored within each school or school system — enough information to seriously tempt cybercriminals who perceive that the security infrastructure at a school is weak. Keeping your school databases and business systems secure and operating as expected starts with ensuring that your school isn’t suffering from these fatal flaws.
It’s not always about keeping outside attackers from infiltrating your systems — sometimes it’s every bit as important to ensure that individuals who are part of your community have appropriate access to information. This is particularly true when it comes to schools, as evidenced by the recent criminal charges against parents for tinkering with entrance exam grades or bribing school officials. A large part of cybersecurity is ensuring that you have the processes, procedures and training in place that will help ensure your school support staff and students only have the rights to view or change information that’s appropriate for their position.
Aging infrastructure can be one of the largest and most expensive challenges for schools, especially in light of the evolving needs of technology in education. Teachers want to provide students with the best possible education, and that means harnessing laptops, tablets and mobile phones — often as a part of the school’s WiFi network. If your infrastructure and networks are not adequately protected, this can lead to serious holes in your network security that could allow external hackers to access your school’s information or install ransomware or other forms of malware into your network.
It’s not unusual for there to be several substitute teachers on staff at any time, and office workers may need backup on a regular basis, too. Each of these individuals — as well as your full-time staff members — needs to have adequate training to ensure they are properly versed in the ways that cybercriminals are attempting to permeate your school’s defenses. Each email that comes into your building or is viewed on a connected device could potentially bring your school’s technology to its knees. In-depth, ongoing education is the best way to combat the immediate cybersecurity threats facing your school. Considering that it takes an organization up to six months to discover a breach, it’s extremely important to stay vigilant when it comes to phishing emails, scams and ransomware.
The dangers associated with cybersecurity in K-12 education are real, and they are immediate. Schools are struggling to keep up with the proliferation of technology within their walls — and an aging infrastructure that may not be properly engineered to support the changing needs of the school community. It’s vital that schools work with technology partners that truly understand and can address these evolving threats by providing the comprehensive IT services that schools need. When you’re ready to learn more about how to protect your school from cyberattack, contact the professionals at Network Outsource today at 516-207-1889 or fill out our quick online form to receive your free initial consultation.