Cyberattacks are not a new issue for schools. As a matter of fact, there have been 855 separate incidents since 2016, with more than a third of those occurring in 2019 alone. With many school systems facing new security challenges with the continuing use of remote and online learning environments, the topic of cybersecurity for schools remains a “hot button issue” in the education industry.
Cyberthreats are not increasing just because of the new teaching formats. In many cases, schools are challenged by a lack of in-house resources. Small or even non-existent IT departments, dwindling budgets, and an onslaught of new technologies all contribute to a lag in security protocol adoption.
These weaknesses often create the perfect landscape for clever hackers to gain access to the sensitive information often handled by schools, such as personal student data, financial information, and more.
How Hackers are Making Cybersecurity for Schools a Must-Have in the Coming Year
With more schools adopting — or continuing — the implementation of remote or online learning curriculum, there is a corresponding increase in vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Not only must schools secure their internal networks and devices, but they must find ways to protect data and devices that are being used in a remote environment, such as Chromebooks and laptops. While there are many tools schools can use to help bolster their security, they often require highly technical and in-depth planning for proper implementation.
For this reason, many schools are turning to third-party IT experts, such as ERH Technology Solutions, to assist them in creating an actionable cybersecurity plan that is both cost-effective and efficient. Another reason to consider expert help is the rapid rate that hackers are evolving, requiring constant vigilance to stay protected from emerging threats.
Main Types of Cybersecurity Threats/Attacks
Ransomware attacks on school systems are on the rise as more schools experience an increase in remote learning, both in the United States and abroad. Not only must schools secure their in-house IT facilities, but also student devices such as Chromebooks, laptops, desktops, smartphones, and more.
Interconnecting both on-premises and geographically scattered machines allows for an exponential growth in attacks and a higher frequency of infection, making it easier for hackers to make a significant impact. Plus, technologies such as video conferencing are providing easier access to non secure communications.
2. Phishing and Social Engineering
Phishing, spear phishing, and other social engineering tactics are being aimed at schools at nearly twice the rate of other industries. Some of this is because the education community feels they are not "on a hackers radar", so they are quite trusting of perceived in-community emails and correspondence.
The other half of that equation, of course, is that significant cybersecurity-based education is needed among educational organizations to ensure employees — and their student population — are aware of these techniques and can be proactively protective of ingoing and outgoing communications.
3. DDoS Attacks
Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS attacks, are becoming more prevalent among learning institutions. A DDoS attack can shut down functionality for an extended period, denying students and faculty the ability to move forward with learning.
Monitoring IT infrastructure and communication channels for suspicious behavior is critical, as is a strong disaster recovery plan, proper security training, and a robust cybersecurity presence.
Worried About Cybersecurity? ERH Technology Solutions Can Help
At ERH Technology Solutions, we understand the challenges many schools are facing as they move through the relatively uncharted waters of online and remote learning. Even schools that are using in-person learning curriculum are experiencing more disruption due to malicious actors.
To keep your organization protected, we offer a complete Cybersecurity bundle for schools and also Managed Network Services that are targeted toward the education industry. Our experts can assess your current infrastructure for vulnerabilities, then create, implement, and maintain a targeted plan to keep your school’s sensitive information as safe as possible and assist you with your daily IT needs if you do not have an internal IT department.
We concentrate on remote monitoring; smart backup, disaster recovery, and continuity solutions; and a host of cybersecurity protections that offer security across every device. Plus, our services are a smarter choice for those with smaller budgets we offer a consistent, trackable monthly cost.
Keep your school’s data protected and ensure compliance — and peace of mind. Contact ERH today and learn how easy it is to get robust cybersecurity for your school.