Can Your School District Cybersecurity Handle Growing Threats?
by Doreen Fiola
Cybersecurity threats are becoming more rampant every day. As more students move to hybrid and remote learning, schools are exposed to cybercrime in ways they have never been before. If you’re still using the same cybersecurity systems you had in place pre-pandemic, it may be time to take an assessment to learn where your vulnerabilities lie.
Understand Your Remote Environment
If you have students using school-provided internet access, it’s essential to protect those systems from inside and outside threats. There are several questions you can ask yourself to evaluate the health of your security:
- Are district wireless devices protected from malware, ransomware, and other security breaches?
- Are in-home devices that give remote students internet access secure?
- How are critical data systems protected from both inside and outside attacks?
Is Your Data Compliant and Secure?
Schools are the second most vulnerable organization for ransomware attacks. When data is stored improperly, it becomes an easy target for hackers. In addition to ransomware threats, schools also have to worry about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
To understand your data security, ask yourself:
- Are school cloud resources (like your email client) protected from storing private student information inappropriately?
- Are student records protected with MFA or additional security to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access?
Reacting to a Breach
Although a quality cybersecurity plan can help prevent a large number of threats from affecting your district, no plan is perfect. Understanding what you should do in the event of a breach can be the difference between neutralizing the threat or losing systems and data.
If your systems were attacked, could you answer:
- How are security breaches (within the network and to connected end-devices) monitored and addressed if they occur?
- Do you have a response plan in place for common security breaches?
Content Filtering and Student Safety
Students are digital natives. Ensuring appropriate behavior online is essential to their safety. To understand how your school handles content online, ask yourself:
- Is inappropriate student behavior inside your cloud services monitored and addressed proactively?
- Are you implementing content filtering to block access to inappropriate content?
NIC Partners Can Fill in the Blanks
If you’re struggling to answers any of the questions above, NIC Partners can help. We specialize in IT for K-12 organizations, so we understand how to prepare for cybersecurity threats. We can help you conduct a full assessment of your current systems and make recommendations to keep you protected.