As kids head back to school, hackers are already brushing up on how to steal data. What can be done to secure data at schools around the country? Get schooled in cybersecurity, according to researchers at Plante Moran.
As kids head back to school, hackers are already brushing up on how to steal data.
Security breaches can mean everything from hacking into school databases and changing grades to initiating a denial-of-service attack to thwart district-wide testing.
We have grown accustomed to reading about data breaches at big box stores, but hack jobs at schools? Not so much.
Nonetheless, we need to start paying attention. In 2013, a hacker housed outside the United States digitally took over a New Jersey school district and held it for ransom — making it impossible for kids at four elementary schools to complete their online statewide tests as planned. Last November, personal data, such as teachers’ Social Security numbers, were compromised during an attack at Prince George’s County public schools in Maryland. The incident adversely affected 10,000 of the district’s nearly 24,000 employees, according to the Washington Post.
What can be done to secure data at schools around the country? Get schooled in cybersecurity, says researchers at Plante Moran.
1. Teach security basics. It’s critical for school administrators and staff to understand the basics of how securing data works. Academic institutions need continued programs aimed at students, teaching professionals and even parents how to communicate with kids about good security practices. This includes everything from selecting and changing passwords to the safest way to use devices connected to the school’s network. Students, in particular, need to understand the risks of data leaks, as kids are the ones primarily responsible for many of the cyber breaches in school districts.
2. Classify data. Not all data is created equal. A week’s worth of school lunch options doesn’t need to be protected. But students’ Personally Identifiable Information, such as health information and Social Security numbers does. Any and all data that’s private should be stored securely and transmitted in encrypted form.
3. Get outside help. It takes a village to raise a child — and to run a safe school. It’s critical to obtain a periodic outside audit that will assess how effectively a school is protecting your most private data and whether the school is compliant with numerous applicable regulations.
4. Implement solid BYOD security practices. Kids and staff bring their own devices to school, and usually tap into the school’s network wirelessly. Doing so is inherently risky, but it becomes less so when students and staff understand how to keep their treasured devices safe: Enabling auto-lock, using passwords instead of PINs, and keeping Bluetooth devices “non-discoverable” all help to reduce risks.
5. Keep tech on track. Securing a network requires scores of security practices and applications that need to be in place and up-to-date at all times. These include perimeter security such as firewalls, encrypted wireless security, authentication (user IDs and passwords), anti-virus software, and the installation and upkeep of patch software.
Keeping students and schools safe has never been more important. Xiologix helps protect educational institutions from K12 to universities. You you can trust the pros to secure your business with A+ service.