7 Cybersecurity Threats Every K-12 School Faces
Ransomware. DDoS. Phishing. Identify theft.
Sadly, schools across the United States are becoming very familiar with these terms. In fact, recent research indicates that K-12 institutions will have the highest rate of ransomware attacks of any industry in the coming years.
For example, the release of sensitive student and teacher information can lead to identity theft. A hacker’s encryption of students’ grades and teachers’ lesson plans can lead to loss of productivity (especially if they are not backed up) and thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent to replicate data that is gone.
As you to turn to the 2018-19 school year, this is your opportunity to make cybersecurity a budget priority. Here are seven reasons why it’s important:
The email may look legitimate but unfortunately, it is not. Embedded in the text is a hyperlink that sends you to a malicious site. This link has now taken down your school’s system.Solution: Ensure every employee has the highest email filter settings for spam, phishing and executable files. Employees should also be trained on what suspicious emails look like and always report suspected emails to the IT department.
- Outdated Technology.
Your school may feel they need to hold onto computers and tablets until they break. The problem with this plan is they may not support the current operating system, which opens you up to a cybersecurity breach.Solution: Do a complete inventory of all your computer equipment. Make certain it runs iOS 11.3.1 for iPhones/iPads, macOS 10.13.4 for Mac computers and Windows 10 for PCs. For all devices that do not support these versions, disengage them from your network today. Purchase new devices to replace them before or during the next fiscal year.
- Not Paying Attention to Patches.
All operating systems require patches from time to time.Solution: When your computer tells you updates are needed, complete them within a few hours. It will require a restart however, many patches have security updates within them.
- User Error.
When users are allowed access to sensitive and/or confidential data, there is always a risk for exposure.Solution: Partition student, administration and public networks. Practice whitelisting which allows only a handful of individuals into the classified information, blocking nonessential personnel from that data.
- Allowing Weak Passwords and not having a Change Policy.
Passwords less than 14 characters are problematic and/or not enforcing changes of the passwords can lead hackers right to your data’s door.Solution: Make strong passwords a norm, along with two-factor authentication. Provide an automated system that requires password change every 60- to 90-days.
- No tools.
Its time to think of your school network, more like a bank. These financial institutions have a vault, security guards and cameras – different methods to keep your money safe. The same goes for cybersecurity. You need the right tools to keep all the data out of the hands of hackers.Solution: From Mobile Device Management to cybersecurity audit and monitoring, speak to a cybersecurity expert for a full understanding of the best tools for your school system.
- Vulnerability testing is nonexistent.
Without continuous checking, hackers will continue to try and access your data.
Solution: Initially, you need a cybersecurity organization to analyze the vulnerabilities in your network and recommend fixes. Once those solutions are in place, its vital to have 24/7 monitoring of your network to ensure your data is safe.
Start a Conversation with Axiom Cyber Solutions
We can protect your school from cyberthreats at a very reasonable cost! Give us a call at (800) 519-5070 today to learn more about our offerings!