In today’s digital age, schools are the guardians of sensitive data—data that requires robust cybersecurity. To address that need, we hosted Cybersecurity for School Leaders with cybersecurity experts Mohammad Ahmed and Preet Singh from SoftwareMSP. You can rewatch the webinar here or read on for key insights.
The Current State of Cybersecurity in Education
The webinar began by shedding light on the increasing threat of cyberattacks, particularly in the education sector. Hackers often target schools, considering them vulnerable compared to other institutions. Mohammed Ahmed stressed that basic cybersecurity measures are no longer enough, and school administrations must take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their digital assets.
Understanding the Impact and First Line of Defense
The impact of cyberattacks on schools is far-reaching and can have severe consequences. Mohammed Ahmed outlined several critical areas affected by cybersecurity breaches, including learning loss, financial implications, disruption of administrative functions, data and privacy breaches, and psychological impact leading to a loss of trust and reputation.
What are the best practices for school leaders in light of these consequences? Here the experts had a lot to offer.
- Whether internal or outsourced to a managed service provider (MSP), IT staff play a crucial role in the school’s cybersecurity efforts.
- Schools can enhance security by restricting admin access, updating devices and software, enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA), and requiring strong passwords.
- Be aware of and comply with relevant regulations and laws to ensure data privacy and protection, including personally identifiable information (PII), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act (ADPPA).
- Implement security measures such as MFA, Endpoint Detection Response (EDR), Managed Detection Response (MDR), and Network Remediation.
- Offer training and awareness programs for students and staff to foster a cybersecurity-conscious environment.
Choosing the Right Partner
Selecting the right technology partner for cybersecurity solutions is critical. Collaborating with an identity and education-focused service provider who understands the specific systems used in schools and can provide proactive support is essential. Both experts said a trusted partner should:
- Be education-focused in their offerings, with familiarity with the types of systems schools use and the data they own.
- Have a Security Operations Center (SOC) for rapid response.
- Offer guidance on lessons learned to enhance future protection.
Now more than ever, school leaders recognize the potential risks of cyberattacks and take proactive steps to safeguard their schools. With the assistance of a trusted technology partner like SoftwareMSP, schools can navigate the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape with the proper support. Learn more about SoftwareMSP here.
For a deeper dive into cybersecurity for schools, you can access the recorded webinar here. You’ll learn more about:
- Safeguarding your school’s information and maintaining compliance with FERPA.
- Protecting your school from the potential impact of cyberattacks on operations and student learning.
- Establishing a cybersecurity framework for your school.
- Finding and vetting providers of cybersecurity insurance and solutions.