Your School's IT Network is a Gold Mine for Hackers
The Open Security Foundation reports that 15% of all data breaches take place at educational institutions. When such attacks are successful, the consequences can be severe. Given the regularity of attacks on educational networks—and the harm they can cause when they’re successful—it’s vital that you make sure yours is as secure as possible. Here are five things you can do to make sure your school’s network is secure.
1. Use multiple defenses.
The key to a secure network is a comprehensive approach that takes into account all possible points of entry. It’s not enough to have one anti-virus program, or to encrypt only some sensitive information. Combining multiple security measures will provide the best possible defense for your valuable data.
2. Update. Update again. Then check for new updates.
According to a report by Symantec and Verizon, nearly one million online bugs are introduced per day. It's little wonder then that anti-virus programs require frequent updates to remain effective. Neglecting these updates increases your vulnerability to costly and time-consuming infections. Current Technologies recommends automating them whenever possible. You must also take care to download security patches for your browsers and operating systems as they become available.
3. Control network access.
Using network administration software, you can restrict user access to information. Apply "the principle of least privilege" and ensure users can only access the information they need. This will allow you to reduce access to sensitive information while ensuring that everybody can still do their job.
4. Back up everything.
It’s inevitable that you’ll hear stories of students at your school losing nearly finished assignments because of a power outage or a flash flood. Don’t make the same mistake—back up everything you can, preferably in a secure, off-site location. That way, in the event of a security breach (or a natural disaster), you don’t have to worry about extensive data loss.
5. Encrypt sensitive information and use strong passwords.
Finally, it’s prudent to encrypt sensitive information whenever it’s not being used. In the unfortunate event that your school falls prey to a successful cyberattack, you’ll at least have the consolation of knowing that your files were useless to the perpetrators.
The maintenance of a secure school IT network requires you to ensure that it’s kept up-to-date and that the people managing it are following best-practice security protocols.
6. Password Management
In April this year, hackers were able to infiltrate the network of a New Jersey school, steal critical network files, and demand $125,000 for their release, all because of a single weak password.
So make sure that your school’s network administrators are using unique passwords or a suitable password manager app. You can also consider implementing multiple factor authentication (MFA), which requires both a password and a second authorization code—sometimes a secret question, sometimes a code sent to a registered mobile phone.