Cybersecurity Solutions For Private Schools
Is your school ready to face the onslaught of attacks from around the internet? From ransomware to hacking, these tips will help keep your school safe.
Private schools offer an elite education that allows their students to enter the world ready to compete — and win. That often means introducing technology at a very young age and deepening the immersion of the students throughout their years of education. While this approach certainly benefits the students and provides a competitive advantage to schools that are aggressive in their use of technology, it can also leave these private schools more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks such as ransomware, phishing and more. Cybercriminals have recently begun attacking school districts, with Louisiana, Virginia and Oklahoma falling prey to targeted ransomware and email attacks, which cost one Virginia school district $600,000. According to Keith R. Krueger, the chief executive fo the Consortium for School Networking, Cybersecurity “is a tremendously growing concern for school districts”. While it may feel like there are overwhelming threats headed towards private schools, there are measures that you can take to help reduce the possibility of a breach and improve your school’s ability to quickly remediate any cybersecurity situation.
Protect Your Private School from Security Breaches
The vast amount of information that is stored within schools and the perception that their cybersecurity may not be current makes private schools an attractive target for hackers. With a large number of individuals devices from students and teachers included on your WiFi network, there are new potential vulnerabilities being introduced to the system on a daily basis. Protecting your school from security breaches requires more proactive steps than simply having a robust malware and antivirus solution in place. Active monitoring and ongoing review of school security procedures are a vital element to ensure that your school will be sheltered from cyber attacks.
Forming a Cybersecurity Review and Response Team
What happens in the event of a cyber attack? Does your Baltimore IT support team have written procedures that will take you through everything from notification of staff to remediation? If not, it’s time to create a cybersecurity response team that will start by reviewing the overall readiness of the school and provide ongoing training and support in the event of an attack. Included in the team should be:
- Technology team leadership
- Legal representation
- Communication professionals
- Individuals with direct access to protected information
- Key senior educators and administrators
- School board member(s)
Each of these individuals contributes to creating a comprehensive view of the school’s cybersecurity readiness as well as defines how the school will take steps to recover in the event of an attack. Many schools and businesses also include their trusted IT services partners in the planning stage, to ensure that you’re capturing all the potential risk scenarios and leveraging best-practices from the business world to help protect your school.
Commit to an Annual Review
The speed of change in the technology world is staggering, and the security procedures that seemed unbreakable only a few months before could be offering a vulnerability to external forces. By scheduling an annual review and sticking to the timeline, you and your team are offering a commitment to school stakeholders that this is an important task and one that deserves ongoing support and effort. During this annual security review, your team could:
- Ensure that all patches and software upgrades have been completed
- Review the training procedures from the prior year and determine if changes need to be made for the coming year
- Review any new vulnerabilities that have been uncovered for similar schools, or any recent attacks that might help identify areas for remediation
- Grade readiness levels of key staff members
- Update policies and procedures around approving vendor payments
- Provide refresher training for all staff members
- Review WiFi network for new potential vulnerabilities
- Ensure that all IoT devices have updated security, including lab computers and smart TVs
- Prioritize additional security measures to be implemented in the coming year
- Determine if offsite backup procedures are working adequately or need to be reviewed
- Review business continuity and disaster recovery strategies and tweak as needed
Each progressive year provides your team with the added knowledge that will help protect your private school in the future.
Stay Up-to-Date on Changing Privacy Laws and Compliance Requirements
There are two main federal laws that address student privacy and the needs of schools in the Mid-Atlantic region: FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). Together, these privacy laws dictate how schools are able to store and provide access to sensitive student data to family members and the schools. FERPA is focused more on protecting the personal privacy of paper and computerized records, dictating who is allowed to have access to information and how it can be shared. COPPA speaks more to protecting children under the age of 13 online, by restricting the rights of organizations from capturing information from children under that age of consent. COPPA is managed by the Federal Trade Commission, while FERPA is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. These two pieces of legislation work together to create a privacy net over the digital lives of school children, requiring in-depth review by technology and school leadership professionals to ensure that the detailed requirements are being met.
Large school districts are not the only ones that are facing the threat of potential cybersecurity attacks and non-compliance with federal privacy mandates. Rural schools are also gearing up for battle, but the smaller districts and private schools may be the ones in danger of losing the war when it comes to ensuring that their cybersecurity posture is adequate for the needs of their population. Having the support of IT services professionals that are familiar with the demands of the education world can help your school maintain tight security and smooth operations. At Kyocera Intelligence Mid-Atlantic, we work with schools of all sizes to provide the proactive technical support that you need to deliver learning to eager young minds. We believe it is important to look first at the needs of the organization before recommending technology solutions that will provide the infrastructure needed for improved education for today’s tech-savvy students. Contact us today at 800-875-8843 or fill out our quick online form to schedule your complimentary technology review with our experts.