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Top Cybersecurity Risks for Education

Educational institutions are facing an increasing number of cybersecurity risks. Research indicates that in the K-12 sector in the U.S. alone, there were over 1,110 publicly disclosed incidents involving 988 educational organizations from 2016-2020. That’s why we wanted to highlight some of the top cybersecurity risks for education.

Sophisticated Phishing Scams

Phishing scams can be a costly cybersecurity concern for educational institutions. One Texas school district lost a reported $2.3 million as a result of a phishing email scam. While it is possible that school staff can fall victim to a phishing scam, it can be avoided by offering security awareness training. Schools can also work with cybersecurity experts that can help roll out additional training to students, which helps empower both students and staff to be aware of and avoid these scams.

Secure Remote Access

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many educational institutions were forced into expanding their distance learning strategy without being fully prepared. In many cases, in-house IT staff were forced to deploy network access without having time to validate that they were offering fully secure remote access into their system. Some schools are still facing this challenge, and in some cases, they have not fully secured network access for students and faculty that are returning on-site. Remote access security gaps can make schools susceptible to a number of cybersecurity risks.

To ensure remote access is secure, schools need secure remote access solutions and managed firewall protections that help deter internet-based attacks.

Spikes in Ransomware Attacks

Educational institutions should be on high alert for ransomware attacks. Earlier this year, the FBI issued a warning about spikes in ransomware attacks against schools. To help mitigate against these attacks, schools should regularly back up their data at a minimum. In addition, they should have a data recovery plan. If they are missing the mark in any of these areas, they should consider cloud backup solutions and services that will help protect them from ransomware attacks.

Lack of IT Resources

One of the main challenges in the education industry is having access to in-house IT resources that they have both the time and knowledge to allocate towards their cybersecurity strategy. The everyday demands on in-house IT can often keep them busy with other priorities, making it hard for them to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. With cybersecurity attacks on schools becoming more advanced, in-house IT staff are not always equipped with the knowledge to fully protect their school.

The way to overcome this challenge is to work with an MSP (managed support provider) that specializes in managed IT services. They can help schools by monitoring and managing cybersecurity critical areas such as SD-WAN and LAN (local area network) infrastructure, which takes the burden off of in-house IT and gives educational institutions the proactive approach to security that they need.

These cybersecurity risks can be detrimental to any educational institution. If you are concerned about any of these risks, contact TPx to get the support you need.