The education sector is considered to be highly vulnerable to cyber threats. The 2018 Education Cybersecurity Report, suggests that education institutions are struggling with various things like application security, endpoint security, and patching cadence. With this, the education industry is ranked the worst at cybersecurity out of 17 major industries. This implies that there is a need for preventive measures to Improve Cybersecurity in the Education System.
According to a report by the U.S Education department, students browsing the internet for information and such learning purposes are prone to dangerous cyberattacks. Educational institutions are facing huge pressure to safeguard sensitive information of students with the rising issue of cybersecurity.
Lately, schools have started using technological methods to store data, but many schools are still not adhering to monitor and protect network infrastructure. Institutions are now becoming digitalized in compiling a massive amount of data including assessment information, learning tool data, educator observations, attendance data, instructor feedback, and summative evaluations.
Meanwhile, as the Internet of Things (IoT) gain momentum, students are using more than one device in classrooms, where all of them are not secured. Educational institutions are underestimating the need for a protective solution across all institution networks.
There is an urgent need to deal with cyber frauds in India, as schools collect an incredible amount of personal data. In order to escape from cybercrime, understand the common mistakes that lead to cybercrime.
Educational institutions have become more prone to cyber hacks due to:
Financial gain: The core idea of every hacker is to gain personal data or financial credentials to withdraw money. With schools and colleges handling a large number of student fees, they are susceptible to cyberattacks.
Data theft: What else than hacking personal information and sending them to the third party? Well, this is what hackers do! Since schools are incompetent in handling a huge amount of sensitive details of children during admission, they become a prime target for cyber frauds in India.
According to me, a lack of proper resources and poor knowledge of cybersecurity in schools and colleges is a serious concern for the education sector. It is the responsibility of the school to protect information and secure network to overcome this menace.
Before moving forward, let me give you an insight into the three weaknesses faced by this industry:
Application security: Many schools are relying on online applications for data collection, testing, and analysis. Any slight change observed in your network should be taken seriously. Thus, schools and universities need to build application security into their system, incorporate vulnerability scans, penetration tests, etc. to prevent security flaws.
Endpoint security: Vulnerable endpoints are on the rise with students and staff using multiple personal devices. Children are seen connecting their devices to the same home network that are not secured.
Schools need to choose endpoint security software that can easily detect vulnerabilities and unify network management. Enrolling children and faculty into cybersecurity training programs will create awareness about cybersecurity.
Make sure you don’t forget to integrate an endpoint segmentation!
Patching cadence: As known to all, updating your system regularly can keep cyber threats at bay. Patching involves determining vulnerabilities in the system and knowing the number of critical vulnerabilities that need to be patched. There are several security companies like McAfee that helps in identifying the vulnerabilities and provides temporary fixes until an IT member completes the patch.
The next question is, what are the reasons for these cyber-attacks:
- Lack of budget or resources
The education sector is not financially stable to invest in a cybersecurity team or software.
- Cultural differences
Schools and universities without a secured MDM solution can open the door for cyber attacks.
- No policy at place
Set strict policies for using a protected network and implement it effective across the school campus. You can also prepare an internal team to see that it is sincerely followed.
In various schools, Children bring their own devices which can increase the difficulty in securing wider network without any protection. This can infect devices and eventually turns to be a favorable hub for a data breach. Head down to know how this can be prevented through some basic steps.
Preventive Measures to be taken by the Education Sector
I recommend a few top tips to protect oneself from the prey of cyberattacks. Go through it.
- Ensure strong password protection for all devices
Never forget to secure your password and refrain from sharing information among peers or other staff members. Make your passwords strong by using characters and change them annually.
- Network security training is necessary
Data breaches are a result of human errors that can be avoided by providing basic security training regimen for students and staff. You can also introduce cybersecurity training to mitigate risks.
Training can be given on how to differentiate between safe and unsafe sites while browsing, educating them about cybersecurity and its types, identifying suspicious behavior and motivate all to use antiviruses and malware.
- Invest in the best firewalls
Having a mitigation strategy in place works well wherein you can avoid risk by early detection. Isn’t it great if you know where your vulnerabilities are? Develop clear and strict rules so that everyone follows it. Having cybersecurity policies or a formal audit can help in validating whether the institution is following the rules set.
These audits are performed by a third party who will help in the assessment of technology infrastructure, organizational policies, and user-training to understand the risks. What can be done now?
Keep all your networks free from malware by shifting to portable antivirus software. Understand the causes of cybercrime and preventive measures.
With the huge volume of data owned by these institutions and the increase in connected devices, this sector urgently requires cybersecurity. It is important to move from the traditional anti-virus solutions, manual practices and step into the modern world.
Cybersecurity is no longer a problem just for the IT sector, it has to be treated through collaborative effort before it turns out to be a global problem. All sectors need to join hands to combat this issue. Take a step against cyber frauds in India by shifting to automation tools!
Hope this article was useful, stay with me for more!