Creating Cyberattack Resilience in Modern Education Environments

From increasing cybersecurity awareness in staff, students, and parents to practicing good security hygiene for devices, using endpoint protection, and inspecting network traffic, schools can boost cybersecurity to keep students safe.

Since the onset of the pandemic, cyberattacks on schools and educational institutions have skyrocketed. In fact, K12 Security Information Exchange, a Virginia-based nonprofit that helps schools defend against cybersecurity risk, tracked more than 1,200 cybersecurity incidents since 2016 in US public school districts, consisting of ransomware attacks, grading system breaches, and child stalkers.

Students, teachers, and parents are increasingly reliant on technology to execute virtual learning. Tech plays a role in everything from personal student information to attendance and grading records. This sensitive data is more vulnerable to breaches, demanding that educational institutions get serious about bolstering their cybersecurity strategies.

Most public schools are exactly known for having robust budgets. While many educational institutions lack the funds for a full-scale cybersecurity plan or full-time IT staff, there are things that can be done to ensure that devices managed by schools are kept safe and secure. To protect a school, it’s important to understand why and how cybercriminals target schools, and to train students and employees in best practices for ensuring that school-managed devices are used properly and securely.

Why Do Attackers Target Schools?
Compared with the financial stakes of corporations and critical identification information housed within government agencies, it seems odd that a hacker would target public schools. But it turns out that there is more to be stolen than just lunch money.

The fact is that K-12 schools possess loads of data, especially since schools turned to remote learning. In the last three years, schools handed out millions of digital devices and mobile hotspots to students and employees. These devices are used to access an increasingly large portfolio of online programs and apps for instruction. Without proper policies or device management systems in place, students have unfettered access to the Internet and the dangers within it. Not only are hackers finding their own way in, but the user-initiated risk is also a concern. With increased entry points, hackers have myriad opportunities to uncover important data that helps facilitate identity theft. Personal information such as children’s Social Security numbers is exposed through a cyberattack on a school, creating a very real problem for those too young to protect themselves. Read more:

You can also read this: 86% of organizations believe they have suffered a nation-state cyberattack

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