Is your school district putting the necessary amount of attention on addressing the growing challenge of cybercrime in education? Recent attacks on schools throughout the country are serious warnings to tighten up your information security awareness efforts and develop a plan to ensure that your schools are protected.
Educational networks are prime targets for hackers, and the danger becomes increasingly present every day. If you’re not prepared with a proper network design and awareness strategy, your district could find itself the victim of a major ransomware attack, computer virus or other dangerous intrusion. Don’t put your students and faculty at risk. Understand the vulnerabilities you may be overlooking, and make sure your information security systems are capable of taking cybercrime to task. You may find that your school district’s network is in need of some serious evaluation.
The connectivity scene for K-12 students is unlike it ever has been before. Thanks to great strides in information technology for the education arena, students have more IT at their fingertips during the school day, and they’re savvier than ever when it comes to using it. This is great news for education, but it also comes with plenty of risk. Given the chance, students will take advantage of opportunities to download videos, games and apps — all of which can pose serious security risks if left unmonitored.
Unauthorized downloads present the two-fold challenge of siphoning bandwidth and inviting hackers in. With these types of issues, your network can struggle to perform and maintain information security. So, what’s the solution? It involves the implementation of a networking infrastructure that enables your IT professionals to have a high level of application visibility and control.
It’s critical to give your school district’s network the attention it requires. By assessing the present reality of your network infrastructure, you benefit from the ability to:
There’s no room for error when it comes to protecting student and staff information. It’s imperative to ensure that your networking infrastructure is fortified against cyber threats, ransomware and other dangerous factors.
According to Michael Kaiser, Executive Director for the National Cyber Security Alliance, school districts can appear particularly vulnerable because there are so many users on the connected networks. Therefore, hackers have more potential openings. In addition, successful intruders have access to large amounts of data, including personal, financial and medical information, as well as Social Security numbers and academic records. This valuable data renders district networks highly attractive for hackers interested in selling the information or eliciting a ransomware payload.
A study by security rating company BitSight indicates that schools have the highest rate of ransomware attacks, with three times as many as the healthcare industry and more than 10 times as many as the finance arena. Take a look at some of the highly damaging outcomes caused by recent data breaches in the following school districts:
Don’t become the next headline in the evolving threat landscape for school districts. Make information security a priority and take the necessary steps to ensure that your network is fully prepared to defend against malicious attacks like the ones already experienced by districts across the country.
The BYOD movement certainly isn’t confined to the business sector. In addition to school faculty and administrators taking advantage of BYOD opportunities, many districts have begun to allow students to bring their own devices into the classroom. There are some obvious benefits to this option, including cost savings for the district, improved student-teacher collaboration and the personalization of educational objectives, both in the classroom and at home.
Unfortunately, these benefits come with a hefty share of information security challenges, and unless your district is prepared to meet them, your BYOD situation could be leaving schools open to significant threats. Can your network infrastructure handle the strain of smartphones, laptops and tablets accessing it? Does your wireless network enable your IT professionals to have a high level of application visibility and control? Have you developed policies to prioritize applications and devices? Is there a security awareness program in place?
These are all critical considerations in the security of your information systems. Now is the time to ensure that you have the infrastructure to support identity-based policies for web and network access, control or block the use of certain apps and websites, provide adequate bandwidth for critical education applications and services, protect against devices infected with malware and implement intrusion defense and prevention systems. The safety of your schools’ data depends on it.
Danger is imminent if your district doesn’t have the proper network design, maintenance plan and awareness strategy to ensure information security. If you’re unsure about how to handle an update, upgrade or installation, read “Your Guide to Choosing an IT Solutions Partner” and gather the insight you need to make the most cost-effective decisions for your school district.
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