Cyber Security for Schools: How to Protect Your E Classrooms

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Cyber Security for Schools

Across the world, the COVID-19 health pandemic has thrust students, teachers, and schools into the online learning environment. Due to the prevailing conditions, institutions have hastily set up new learning platforms. Most of these transitions to e-learning would typically have taken several months to implement. So, when you consider the evolving information security risks the education sector faces today, there’s a dire need for proper internet security protocols to provide a safe online learning ecosystem.

Educational institutions often store massive amounts of critically sensitive data, ranging from test and research documents to students’ personal information. As a result, schools are among the top targets for cyberattacks. Many school districts have already experienced ransomware and phishing attacks, with some schools forced to shut down for a while or take measures to reinforce their internet security systems.

As more schools continue incorporating technology for their classes and administrative needs, ensuring robust information security processes will become more critical.

Learn more about the role of effective cyber security for schools here below:

Common Cyberattacks in Educational Institutions

Different scenarios exist that may drive cybercriminals to infiltrate a school’s information security systems. Hackers may target some institutions because of their research, endowments, and personal student’s information. Equally so, malicious attacks may bring about computer outages and adversely affect a teachers’ ability to provide useful e-learning classes.

Here are some of the common cyberattacks facing schools:

  • Cloud-Based InsecurityMost schools use cloud or web-based platforms for their e-learning delivery. If that cloud infrastructure isn’t hosted securely by the educational institution, it means that operational, financial, and student data could be stored and accessed from third-party web services. Also, the IoT devices deployed alongside these cloud applications further widen the cyber threat landscape.
  • DDoS AttacksDDoS attacks can prevent stakeholders from accessing a school’s e-learning system, thus wreaking havoc on the daily school operations. Attackers flood the network with spam and other information designed to cripple the system. Penetration testing, along with the utilization of antivirus software and firewalls, can help prevent these attacks.
  • MalwareViruses, ransomware, adware, and worms are the different types of malware that can affect schools. Malware may often lead to fraud, stalled e-learning operations, or even extortion. A practical vulnerability assessment to plug gaps while requiring students to have a reliable antivirus is advisable.
  • Phishing—It can be more challenging to fight phishing in schools since threat actors can spoof legitimate school email accounts. Affected students can click on phishing links, enabling the bad actors to access the entire school email system.
  • Unsecured Devices—All students have their personal devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even fitness trackers. Increasing the number of devices in a network widens its overall attack surface. Even so, with proper monitoring and frequent risk assessments, schools can keep their systems safe.

How to Enhance Cyber Security for Schools

Here are a few ways to improve cyber security for schools:

1. Conduct a comprehensive security assessment

Essential security assessments like risk assessments and penetration testing can help identify common cyber threats and thus support plug gaps within an institution’s IT infrastructure. Areas to evaluate include email systems, data storage processes, cloud platforms, and third-party information security risk.

2. Build a robust cyber security framework

Educational institutions should leverage various new controls and technologies designed to provide sufficient information security. That means their security departments must research what options are available before recommending the most suitable ones. Any cybersecurity program should be founded on a comprehensive cybersecurity risk assessment. The risk assessment is the ideal place to identify appropriate controls as mentioned above.

3. Compare your cyber security program with other schools

Does your program meet the minimum standards recommended for cyber security for schools? There are specific protocols to these standards and those used by similar institutions will also highlight your strengths and weaknesses while introducing you to new cybersecurity techniques and tools.

Contact SCA for More Information about Cyber Security for Schools

Establishing proper cyber security for schools is critical to ensuring a safer e-learning experience and protecting the information teachers and students share. With cyberattacks becoming more common in educational institutions, you must take necessary steps to refine your information security processes, and thereby boost your organization’s cyber security strategy.

SCA Security provides a range of cybersecurity services like risk assessments and penetration testing. These information security services help identify, reduce and manage the cyber risks facing different educational institutions.

Browse through our data breach notification guide to learn your state’s data breach notification laws and requirements.