It’s fall and that means it’s time to head back to school. As the year begins, a growing challenge is facing educational institutions from local school districts to universities; inadequate cybersecurity. A security gap across the entire sector makes it a prime target for bad actors looking for data to steal, systems to block, and ways to wreak havoc!
The incidents of cybercrime among school districts and major universities worldwide are increasing. As we entered the pandemic lockdown in 2020, the University of California, San Francisco, was forced to pay a $1.14 million in ransom after an attack on the medical school locked their network just as the school was transitioning to an online learning platform.
Educational institutions hold large amounts of valuable personal data that includes student, parent, and staff addresses, financial and social security information, sensitive research data, and more. In fact, across the entire sector, tremendously valuable data is being held, and institutions are woefully unprepared and vulnerable.
The Cybersecurity Basics
As malware, ransomware, and other attacks are on the rise, as many as 84% of sector leaders do not feel they are at high risk. In terms of cybersecurity, many organizations are starting from scratch.
Data and infrastructure security start by locking down and controlling access. Here are three tips to get started:
- Protect Your Key Assets – Begin with your most sensitive assets including network servers and student data. These should require special permissions and traceability to access. Use Privileged Access Management (PAM) to secure connections, enforce password security, and monitor activities to mitigate risk.
- Protect and Defend Against Malware/Ransomware – Many viruses target educational institutions. These include malware and ransomware. Adding an additional layer of endpoint PAM helps defend IT infrastructure and workstations against attacks that leverage privilege escalation to encrypt data, execute programs, and run processes.
- Centralize Governance and Identities – To make secure access easier, an increasing number of platforms and logins use identity federation, single sign-on, and multi-factor identification to authenticate and organize identities, platforms, and passwords.
These are the building blocks of a robust security solution for educational institutions. The rapid shift to distance learning forced the sector to transition faster than it was prepared to do. Are you ready to take the next step? Give us a call! Let us help you to protect your data and network throughout the school year!
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