Last year, the private information of more than 820,000 New York students—names, birthdays, even special education status—was breached in an attack on Illuminate Education, a software that tracks grades and attendance. With this incident, it’s clear how vulnerable student data can be to malicious actors.
Schools need to take steps to protect themselves from these and other threats, and one of the most important measures is implementing an intrusion detection system. Whether you’re the largest school district in the nation, like New York City, or a small rural school, the same steps should be taken to secure students’ data. Here’s what you need to know to implement a network intrusion detection system in your school.
Understanding Network Intrusion Detection Systems
A Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) is a vital component of a school’s cybersecurity strategy. Its primary purpose is to monitor network traffic and detect any unauthorized or malicious activity. NIDS accomplishes this by analyzing incoming and outgoing data packets, looking for patterns and signatures that may indicate a security breach.
The NIDS doesn’t just identify the threat—it also records critical data about the attempted breach, such as the source IP address, the time of the incident, and the targeted ports. This information is invaluable as it enables IT administrators to investigate further, allowing them to possibly identify the attacker, and strengthen the network defenses to prevent future intrusions.
Why Schools Need Intrusion Detection
In recent years, educational institutions have increasingly become targets for cyberattacks. The 2023 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report shows a 827% spike in ransomware attacks on K–12 institutions. Cyber attacks can range from data breaches to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware incidents and more.
As technology advances, so do the tactics of malicious actors. A network intrusion detection system can take on a lot of the heavy lifting for IT admins, allowing them to respond quickly and effectively when a potential threat is identified. Here are a few reasons why schools need intrusion detection:
- Rising Security Concerns: Educational institutions store vast amounts of sensitive data, including student records, financial information, and research data. Cybercriminals see this as an opportunity to steal or manipulate data for financial gain or malicious purposes.
- Protecting Students and Staff: The safety of students and staff is paramount. Intrusion detection can help prevent unauthorized access to security cameras, building control systems, and other critical infrastructure.
- Maintaining Reputation: A data breach can tarnish the reputation of a school. Prospective students and parents expect their educational institution to protect their personal information.
The Ripple Effects of Network Intrusion Detection Systems in Schools
The benefits of intrusion detection systems go beyond just preventing data breaches. Many schools have implemented NIDS to help protect their networks from malicious actors, but also to provide a safer learning environment for students and staff.
- Proactive Threat Detection: Network intrusion detection systems can identify potential threats before they escalate into full-blown attacks. This proactive approach helps schools take preventive measures and avoid costly security incidents.
- Minimizing False Alarms: Intrusion detection systems are designed to reduce false positives, ensuring that security teams only focus on genuine threats. This minimizes unnecessary panic and workload for staff.
- Enhancing Incident Response: In the event of a security incident, NIDS provides real-time alerts and detailed information about the breach, allowing security teams to respond swiftly and effectively.
- Compliance with Regulations: Many educational institutions are subject to data protection regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the United States. Intrusion detection systems help schools meet these compliance requirements by safeguarding sensitive information.
Implementing Intrusion Detection in Your School
After helping schools improve their cybersecurity for over 20 years, we know that implementation is the most complicated part! Here is an overview of getting NIDS in your school:
- Assess Your School’s Security Needs: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your school’s current security infrastructure and identifying potential vulnerabilities.
- Choosing the Right IDS Solution: Consider factors such as your budget, the size of your school, and the specific threats you anticipate facing. Consult with cybersecurity experts to select an IDS solution that aligns with your needs.
- Installation and Configuration: Once you’ve chosen an IDS, it’s time to install and configure it. This step requires technical expertise, so consider working with professionals to ensure it’s set up correctly.
- Training Staff and Students: Educate your staff and students about the importance of cybersecurity and how the intrusion detection system works. Training is crucial for effective incident response.
Remember, intrusion detection is no longer optional for educational institutions. It’s a critical component of ensuring the safety and security of students, staff, and sensitive data. By implementing an Intrusion Detection System in your school, you can proactively protect against cyber threats.
Trust ANC Group to Secure Your School Today
Take the first step towards a safer school environment by assessing your security needs and exploring suitable network intrusion detection systems today. Are you ready to make your school safer? Schools throughout South and North Carolina have trusted us to protect their networks.
Get in touch today and let ANC Group show you how our services can help your school stay secure!