About once a year, some big corporation suffers a substantial cyber attack. They fix the problem, settle the lawsuits, and move on. If only the news showed the crippling attacks on smaller organizations across the country. Schools are a prime example.
There are two fundamental actions that school districts must take to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Educational institutions need to have access to sufficient resources to support a robust IT department. Bring your own device (BYOD) in schools has become more common, and that creates security issues across the network. Therefore, a school should have a healthy IT policy in place that governs the use of all devices for all staff.
Let’s step back for a moment.
Why Do Hackers Target Schools?
Imagine a bank that’s full of money and easy to rob. The level of cyber security in many schools is that of a local coffee shop. Educational institutions hold tons of valuable personable data but often lack advanced cyber security systems. Moreover, the pandemic forced schools to rapidly transition to remote learning, which was a boon for hackers. Ransomware and phishing attacks have dogged K-12 schools. Ransomware attacks alone increased 388%1 in the third quarter of 2020.
Schools Should Prioritize Cyber Security Knowledge
Human error is the leading cause of cyber attacks. No amount of network upgrades will help if school administrators and teachers don’t have a basic understanding of cyber security. Staff should undergo training sessions to learn how to identify suspicious links and other forms of social engineering. The IT department can issue a handbook that outlines a strong AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) for all devices.
Government Regulations Also Apply to Schools
It’s fair to say that educational institutions are in a more challenging position than businesses. Cyber attacks expose schools to lawsuits, but that’s only part of it. Various government regulations require schools to keep students’ PII (Personal Identifying Information) safe – no matter what. Failure to do so may result in a slew of repercussions. For example, in higher education, you have the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).2
E-Rate Is a Technology Lifeline for Cyber Security in Education
The FCC created E-Rate in 1996 when it deemed telecommunications, IT, and the internet as essential services for schools and libraries. In short, eligible schools and libraries can get a 20% to 90% discount on vital technology. After all, cyber security in education shouldn’t be a privilege reserved for well-funded private schools. This informative article explains the E-Rate program in greater detail.
E-Rate empowers schools with the necessary resources to upgrade their networks. The application process can be thorny, but Networking Technologies can:
- Demonstrate technologies.
- Answer technology questions.
- Answer questions about the E-Rate process.
Schools Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Today’s technology has the power to bring education to anyone, anywhere. Networking Technologies understands cyber security in education. We’ve been fortifying school networks with innovative solutions for over twenty years. Contact us to learn more. We’re happy to hear about your concerns.