Why Cybersecurity for Schools is Essential in 2021

Cyberattacks are nothing new for educational institutions. In fact, there have been 855 separate incidents since 2016, with more than a third of those occurring in 2019 alone. With many major school systems facing new security challenges as the ongoing pandemic continues to encourage a shift to remote and online learning environments, the topic of cybersecurity for schools remains a hot button in the education industry.

Cyberthreats are not just escalating because of the new teaching formats, however. In many cases schools are challenged by a lack of in-house resources. Small or even non-existent IT departments, dwindling budgets, and an onslaught of new technologies all contribute to a lag in security protocol adoption.

These weaknesses often create the perfect landscape for increasingly clever hackers to gain access to the sensitive information often handled by schools, such as personal student data, financial information, and more.

How Hackers are Making Cybersecurity for Schools a Must-Have in the Coming Year

With more schools adopting — or continuing — the implementation of remote or online learning curricula, there is a corresponding increase in vulnerability to cyberattack.

Not only must schools secure their internal networks and devices, but they must find ways to protect data and devices that are being used in a remote environment. While there are many tools schools can use to help bolster their security, they often require highly technical and in-depth planning for proper implementation.

For this reason, many schools are turning to third-party IT experts to assist them in creating an actionable cybersecurity plan that is both cost-effective and efficient. Another reason to consider expert help is the rapid rate that hackers are evolving, requiring constant vigilance to stay protected from emerging threats.

Typical tactics include:

  1. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks on school systems are on the rise as more schools experience an increase in remote learning curricula, both in the United States and abroad. Not only must schools secure their in-house IT facilities, but also student devices such as tablets, desktops, smartphones, and more.

Interconnecting both on-premises and geographically scattered machines allows for an exponential growth in attacks and a higher frequency of infection, making it easier for hackers to make a significant impact. Plus, technologies such as video conferencing are providing easier access to non secure communications.

  1. Phishing and Social Engineering

Phishing, spear phishing, and other social engineering tactics are being aimed at schools at nearly twice the rate of other industries. Some of this is because the education community feels insular, so they are quite trusting of perceived in-community emails and correspondence. The other half of that equation, of course, is that significant cybersecurity-based education is needed among educational organizations to ensure employees — and their student population — are aware of these techniques and can be proactively protective of ingoing and outgoing communications.

  1. DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS attacks, are rife among learning institutions. A DDoS attack can shut down functionality for an extended period, denying students and faculty the ability to move forward with learning.

Monitoring IT infrastructure including websites and communication channels for suspicious behavior is critical, as is a strong disaster recovery plan, proper security training, and a robust cybersecurity presence.

Worried About Cybersecurity? Virginia Business Systems Can Help

At Virginia Business Systems (VBS), we understand the challenges many of our education clients are facing as they move through the relatively uncharted waters of online and remote learning. Even our clients that are still using an in-person learning curriculum are experiencing more disruption due to malicious actors.

To keep your organization protected, we offer complete Managed Network Services that are targeted toward the education industry. Our experts can assess your current infrastructure for vulnerabilities, then create, implement, and maintain a targeted cybersecurity plan to keep your school’s sensitive information as safe as possible.

We concentrate on remote monitoring; smart backup, disaster recovery, and continuity solutions; and a host of cybersecurity protections that offer security across every device. Plus, our services are a smarter choice for those with smaller budgets or bottom-line health concerns as they offer a consistent, trackable monthly cost.

Keep your school’s data protected and ensure compliance — and peace of mind. Contact VBS today and learn how easy it is to get robust cybersecurity for your school.

March 22nd 2021