The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the way we connect and work. Not only has it impacted businesses, but it has also changed the landscape of how we educate young people. Since moving to online remote learning methods, the number of cyber attacks against education institutes has increased. In fact, in 2021 alone over 5.8 million malware attacks had targeted educational institutes.
Although cybersecurity was never on the agenda of Schools, it’s now become a need. In order to limit the number of attacks on the school network, IT administrators, staff and students need to take action. Here are our top methods to help you keep your schools safe from cyber attacks.
Why schools are a target for cyberattacks?
Similar to any other business, education institutes such as Schools, Colleges and Universities generate a lot of information. From personal information relating to students, teachers and other staff members to intellectual property such as the educational curriculum or research. Even though some may not see this information as valuable as money, it’s actually beneficial to cyber criminals. In fact, the data that is generated and stored by educational institutes have become gold for cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals know that educational institutes are unprepared for cyber attacks, and more importantly, they are aware that many institutes don’t take cybersecurity measures seriously. There have been many incidences where schools have discovered cyber attacks a long time after the incident has occurred. In 2021, India, Italy, Israel, Australia and Turkey were the top five countries targeted for cyberattacks in the education sector, and what’s more the attacks are only increasing.
That’s why it’s important for the education sector to start taking precautions and preventative measures to stay away from becoming a victim of a cyber attack.
What Can Schools Do to Prepare for Cyberattacks?
To strengthen information security in an educational environment, students, teachers, and employees require access to a mixture of education and IT security solutions. To safeguard data from cyberattacks, schools should educate students and employees about the importance of cybersecurity. The benefits of enrolling on cybersecurity awareness training allow students and staff members to understand the digital dangers. Here are a few helpful tips for keeping your systems secure during the school period:
Top 5 essential methods to safeguarding Schools from cyber threats
1. Train your Staff and Students
To combat the lack of awareness of IT threats, students and staff members need to be regularly briefed on the latest security risks to know how to respond intelligently to data breaches, ransomware, and phishing attacks. Cybersecurity awareness will help staff and students develop the skills needed to detect various cyberattacks and social engineering attempts. Cybersecurity training should not just happen when people are first hired or when new systems are implemented at the beginning of the school year. Awareness programs should occur throughout the year and especially when a new system is implemented.
2. Safeguard your internal network security
Intrusion detection, data backup, and anti-malware solutions are important elements for catching any breaches in perimeter security. But these measures are even more critical in light of the risk of insider threats. Included in Windows 10, Windows Security offers good anti-malware protection and is more effective and comprehensive than the version of Windows Defender that comes with Windows 7. No matter which operating system is running, keeping up with security patches is vital to protect against the latest forms of malware.
3. Focusing on securing your perimeter
Perimeter security typically includes network firewalls, web filters, email protection, and application firewalls. Perimeter security is a logical point at which to implement cyber security controls. But without this type of protection, attack vectors will persist.
4. Ensure Endpoint Protection
Endpoint protection protects networks that are remotely bridged to devices. Mobile devices, tablets and laptops that are connected to your school networks give access paths to security threats. Make sure you protect each path with specific endpoint protection software.
5. Organise an annual audit
To make sure that your school system is up-to-standard, you should initiate an annual audit. Speak with the local authority or trust about potential providers – they may be able to provide more bespoke guidance for what would work best in this situation.
Picking an auditor to protect your school’s IT infrastructure is not as straightforward as you might think. When selecting the right company, make sure they have experience in cyber-security auditing. When picking out the right company, work with all of its managers and make sure they have experience in cyber-security auditing before handing over any information or credentials.
While there is no foolproof way to prevent your school from being hacked, there are steps you can take to make it less vulnerable. By following the advice in this article, you can make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to your data and systems. The best defence against hackers is a good offence so start strengthening your cybersecurity posture today.