The 2022 school year became the fourth year in a row that experienced more than 50 ransomware attacks on K–12, including four that caused those schools to cancel classes. And those are just ransomware attacks—from 2016 to 2022, there have been about 1,619 cyber incidents involving public schools and districts.
So what can your institution do to prevent hackers from ever selling your students’ and employees’ personal information?
The Shifting Cyber Threat Landscape
2023 was no stranger to data breaches that left major public institutions scrambling. From $6 million losses in New Haven, Connecticut to a $1 million ransom demand in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the financial impact of cyber attacks continues to rise.
In the case of the New Haven school district, cybercriminals accessed the email account of the district’s chief operating officer. The hackers impersonated both the COO and vendor accounts to divert millions of dollars from the district’s school bus contractor and a law firm.
So, it’s clear—cybercrime is a major threat to educational institutions and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. What can your school do about it?
Understanding Managed Cybersecurity Services
Managed cybersecurity services offer a proactive and comprehensive approach to combating these threats. Unlike traditional methods, which often rely on isolated solutions like firewalls, managed services encompass a suite of proactive measures, including continuous monitoring, incident response, and tailored solutions to address evolving threats. These services also involve unified communications and collaboration between parties in order to successfully navigate around threats.
The Limitations of Traditional Firewalls
While firewalls serve as the initial defense line, they alone cannot address the multifaceted nature of modern cyber threats. Relying solely on firewalls leaves significant gaps in security and exposes organizations to risks such as sophisticated malware, social engineering attacks, and insider threats.
Firewalls didn’t stop the hackers from impersonating the COO from the New Haven school district—they alone won’t stop the next attack either.
Managed Cybersecurity Services That Can Protect Your School
So what would managed cybersecurity services look like for your institution?
Continuous Threat Monitoring
Continuous threat monitoring involves robust systems that vigilantly track network activities within school infrastructures. This proactive approach is vital in safeguarding sensitive student and administrative data.
- Real-time Vigilance: Utilize advanced tools to monitor network traffic, user behavior, and device activities, and identify anomalies that may signal potential threats like malware or unauthorized access attempts.
- Immediate Alerts: Automated systems generate alerts upon detecting unusual behavior, which enables swift responses to mitigate potential risks and protect student information.
- Student Safety Monitoring: Beyond data security, an MSP can monitor online activities to ensure a safe digital environment for students, identifying and addressing inappropriate content issues.
- Resource Protection: Safeguard educational resources, such as research materials and teaching materials, from unauthorized access or theft.
Incident Response and Mitigation
In educational settings, incident response and mitigation strategies are essential to maintain uninterrupted learning experiences and protect students’ privacy.
- Quick Response Protocols: Establish predefined plans and protocols for responding to cybersecurity incidents promptly and effectively, which minimizes disruption to educational activities.
- Student Data Protection: Immediate containment and mitigation of incidents involving student records, ensuring compliance with data protection laws and preserving student privacy.
- Resource Recovery: Swiftly recover any compromised educational materials or digital resources, minimizing interruptions to curriculum delivery.
- Lesson Integration: Educate staff and students about cybersecurity measures and incident response procedures to create a culture of security awareness within the educational environment.
Data Backup and Recovery Solutions
Data backup and recovery solutions in educational institutions are paramount for preserving academic records, lesson materials, and administrative data.
- Regular Data Backups: Automated and scheduled backups of crucial student records, lesson plans, and administrative information to prevent data loss in case of system failures or cyber attacks.
- Protected Storage: Storing backups in secure locations or encrypted cloud platforms to prevent unauthorized access and ensure data integrity.
- Rapid Recovery: Well-defined procedures for swift data recovery to minimize disruptions to academic activities and administrative functions.
- Archiving Educational Resources: Archiving and protecting historical educational materials and student work to maintain a comprehensive educational database.
Customized Cybersecurity Solutions
Tailored cybersecurity solutions for schools involve addressing unique challenges related to student privacy, regulatory compliance, and maintaining a secure learning environment.
- Regulatory Compliance: Adhere to student data protection laws (e.g., FERPA) and tailor security measures to align with educational privacy regulations.
- Child Safety Measures: Implement age-appropriate cybersecurity measures to protect younger students from online risks and ensure safe internet usage.
- Educational Resource Protection: Design security strategies to safeguard digital educational resources, research materials, and intellectual property.
- Security Awareness Programs: Educate staff, educators, and students about cybersecurity best practices, and foster a culture of digital responsibility and safety.
By integrating these tailored cybersecurity measures, schools can proactively address threats, protect student privacy, and ensure a secure digital environment conducive to learning and growth.
Complimentary Security Assessment from ANC Group
Get a snapshot of where your security gaps are with a free assessment from our experts. Our team will analyze network vulnerabilities, identify potential threats, and recommend tailored solutions to safeguard your institution against cybercrime.
With managed cybersecurity services from ANC Group, you can focus on providing quality education while we handle the security and protection of your digital infrastructure. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary security assessment and get to know our team!