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Trang Wilber

How to Keep Your School Safe from Cyber Attacks

Cybersecurity’s role in educational institutions is becoming increasingly important with the rising number of cyber attacks and a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. And, with the amount of learning and teaching happening online since the COVID-19 pandemic, school systems and their students are more vulnerable than ever.

School systems house a great deal of personal information for their students and staff, meaning they’re susceptible to a variety of cybersecurity threats, including data breaches, phishing scams, and social engineering attacks. Cybercriminals will target schools to access sensitive student and staff information (like social security numbers or medical records), harass or exploit students and staff, defraud schools, or use ransomware schemes to extort money.

Attacks on the Rise

Cyber attacks are on the rise in every realm. From July to August 2020, more than eight million malware incidents were detected worldwide, according to Microsoft’s Global Threat Activity Tracker. And the most affected industry? Education.

The FBI even released a public service announcement in April 2020 regarding the number of cyber actors exploiting the increased use of virtual environments. They stated that cyber attacks were increasing in frequency in software from untrusted sources, communication tools (like video-teleconferencing, VOIP phones, and cloud-based communication systems), and remote desktop access from sharing screens.

Protect Your Institution

Cybersecurity is essential for every industry, but especially for education, which safeguards information related to children, young adults, and staff members, often in multiple locations using various programs. The benefits of cybersecurity are many:

  • Increased online safety against unsolicited content

  • Improved security against hackers and phishing

  • Compliance with organizational regulations

Many methods that protect sensitive information from cyber threats are simple. A few simple best practices include educating staff and students about phishing schemes, mandating strong password policies, using secure wifi networks, creating firewall protection, scheduling regular data backups, limiting access to sensitive information, and organizing regular security assessments.

Work With a Cybersecurity Partner

Most educational institutions are ill-equipped to handle the magnitude of potential cybersecurity threats on their own. That’s why finding a trusted partner who can protect schools against cyber attacks, ensure FERPA compliance, and keep online and connected classrooms up and running is critical.

A trusted cybersecurity partner can help you safeguard your school by offering the following services:

  •  Imaging
    • A dedicated technology team can help ensure your printers and copiers are up-to-date. Additionally, your campus can get top marks for adding a layer of security with print management software and using shredding services to destroy confidential information.
  • Technology
    • From managed IT to internet-enabled phone systems, strong cybersecurity to fast, reliable internet, and from backup to disaster recovery, a cybersecurity partner can support your school on campus or in the cloud. They can provide remote monitoring and help desks, supporting users and empowering the 21st century classroom.
  • Automation
    • Even on a small campus, admission forms, student records, and financial aid paperwork are kept in multiple places. Automation technologies like Document Workflow and Robotic Process Automation can provide additional security and peace of mind by consolidating contract management, streamlining repetitive processes, improving productivity, and freeing staff to work on critical tasks.

Whatever you do, create a cybersecurity plan now. By immediately implementing several small best practices in your educational institution’s cybersecurity environment, you will create a safer teaching and learning environment.

Applied Innovation’s technology experts know how critical it is to manage data, financials, enrollment information, and student and staffing records. Contact one of our cybersecurity support specialists in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, or Tampa, Florida today to take the next step in creating a more secure infrastructure for your school.