Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance for schools in 2023. How can educators guarantee the safety of their organisations data, and their students data?
Oftentimes, the biggest targets for a cyber threat are the ones who do not expect themselves to be targets. This is often the case for small businesses, but schools are equally likely to become targets by virtue of ignorance. So, how can schools get better at protecting themselves from cyber threats? To answer this, we reached out to a managed IT services company that have been working with schools over the last decade. The company, TechQuarters, discussed some of the most common cyber threats that schools need to be aware of, and some of the best practices that can help them protect themselves.
Common Threats in Schools
Understanding what types of threats your organisation might be vulnerable to is the first step in implementing a strong cybersecurity strategy. Some of the most common threats include:
- Malware – This refers to most types of malicious software that can infect a device, account, or system. The most common types of malware include: Viruses, Keyloggers, Spyware, Words, and Trojans.
- Phishing – This is a type of social engineering that tricks users into handing over sensitive information, or downloading malware without the user realising.
- Ransomware – This type of threat can lock users out of their own systems, accounts, or data until the user agrees to pay a ransom.
Cybersecurity Practices for Schools
In order for schools to implement the best possible cybersecurity for their organisation, a multi-faceted approach is required. TechQuarters, who has provided small business IT support London based schools have been using for years, listed some of the key steps that schools can take to implement a more robust set of defences:
- Upgrade Technology – One way to make sure that all the technology a school uses (including hardware and software) is up-to-date. This means keeping software updated, and might even mean upgrading hardware. This is because old technology typically has vulnerabilities that can be exploited by modern malware.
- Improve Password Usage – Improper password usage (that means re-using passwords, and using simple passwords) is very common, and one of the most common reasons why organisations become victims of cyber-attacks. Ensuring staff are practicing proper password usage is the simplest way to make an organisation more secure.
- Apply Multi-Factor Authentication – In addition to proper password usage, staff should also be using multi-factor authentication. This adds another layer of authentication to every login, making it harder for cybercriminals to gain access to accounts and systems. MFA is something IT admins can apply to all accounts.
- Consider Biometric Verification – It may be harder to enforce proper password usage for student accounts (particular early-stage schools). Therefore, another option is to implement biometric verification. It should be noted that the use biometric data among minors requires strict data protection standards be put in place.
- Migrate to the Cloud – Having provided IT support for Schools for many years now, TechQuarters was able to confirm that one of the best ways for schools to gain access to cutting edge security solutions is by migrating to the cloud.
- Manage Access Rights – When using the cloud, it becomes possible to enforce access rights that ensure that certain resources in a school’s infrastructure can only be accessed by users who explicitly need access in their line of work – this can drastically reduce the risk of data being leaked out of the school by accident.
- Content Controls in the Cloud – Students in schools may be less conscious about the dangers of data leaking out of the school’s systems. However, with the cloud, it is much easier to ensure that data doesn’t leak out. For instance, cloud storage and cloud apps allow students to access company resources remotely, but schools can enforce content controls on those resources. For example, they can restrict downloads to non-company devices.