Education is a valuable pillar of society that shapes the mind of the world’s future leaders. They must always protect everything under their stronghold. But anything can happen in today’s advanced and rapidly changing digital landscape.
News of security breaches in schools that are supposed to protect students has become too familiar. One example is a ransomware attack on the second-largest school system in the United States, which caused the facility to close for two days. Another was when hackers leaked CCTV footage of a school in the UK and live-streamed it on a US website, exposing kids’ identities inside.
The rise of technology helped improve literacy worldwide and made institutions vulnerable to attacks like these. However, fortified cybersecurity in their facility can prevent these. This post will list why prioritizing cybersecurity is vital in the education sector. Read on.
Protecting Sensitive Data
According to top IT companies in Capetown, schools and universities hold a vast amount of data like student personal information, educational records, financial information, and pertinent research data. Cybercriminals can exploit this information and use it for their gain.
Crucial aspects of cybersecurity are access control and encryption. With these safeguards, there’s a limit on the access of sensitive information and protection in their transfer. Cybercriminals won’t be able to intercept or change data to benefit them. It’ll also prevent the loss of valuable data, which can harm the institution.
Safeguarding Against Cyberthreats
In the past, the most victimized by hackers and cybercriminals were government websites, financial institutions, the energy and telecommunication sector, and large businesses. But today, the education sector was one of the top targeted by these individuals. They saw many opportunities and have seen many ways they can take advantage of them.
You might think that the latest antivirus software is enough to protect you, but cybercriminals are among the most intelligent people. They’re always a step ahead and have been finding ways to crack the codes built by developers.
Unscrupulous individuals can hold data for ransom and will only release them in exchange for a vast amount of money. One university in North America paid ransom worth CAD$20,000 to hackers after a ransomware attack on its systems. If this continues, more bad actors will gain the courage to do their deeds.
With reinforced cybersecurity, you can be updated with the latest and most sophisticated software to protect your system against breaches. It can train your staff to identify and report threats to mitigate them.
Ensuring Uninterrupted Operations
With the advent of the pandemic, online learning has become the standard, which gave rise to the use of the learning management system. Students utilize this tool to attend synchronous classes, take examinations, submit projects and research papers, and view their grades.
With a solid cybersecurity measure, you can be sure that no external power can influence the flow of education in the system. Children can attend classes and perform their tasks with ease. Similarly, they always perform data backups to ensure they can quickly restore the system during an attack. Data backup ensures continuity of learning.
Compliance With Regulations
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects students’ records by law, ensuring their privacy. With cybersecurity systems in place, your institution can be sure to comply with this law to avoid penalties.
In addition, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) protects students and those who pay for their tuition. A robust cybersecurity system will shield this vital financial data from being stolen. A breach of these protections can result in credit card fraud and other significant financial losses. Compliance with this standard is necessary. Otherwise, you may be subject to fines and legal risks.
A cyberattack can do so much harm to an educational institution. Aside from the loss of pertinent data and paying a huge ransom, cyberattacks can also result in losing credibility and trust from stakeholders. But the far worse effect it can bring is damaging the institution’s reputation.
Once their reputation is tainted, the educational facility will have difficulty attracting students and teachers, which can eventually lead to bankruptcy and the potential shutdown of the school.
What Can Educational Institutions Do To Prioritize Cybersecurity?
Prioritizing cybersecurity today is critical, with many visible and invisible threats looming. Here are some of the things educational institutions can do:
- Conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment with the help of an expert
- Develop strong policies to ensure standards are followed
- Invest in advanced security controls such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection, and prevention systems
- Educate staff with IT best practices such as password management and safe browsing habits
- Conduct regular audits
- Update software and tools regularly
- Hire an IT specialist
The crucial role of the education sector in shaping the future will always be at risk. Those who hold this sector with much value must ensure its walls are impregnable. The reasons stated here for prioritizing cybersecurity should be enough to convince you to invest in it.
Erica Chen is a freelance technology writer. She has been covering various topics related to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing for over 5 years. Erica believes that educating people about the importance of cybersecurity is crucial in today’s digital age. During her free time, Erica enjoys practicing yoga, trying out new recipes, and playing board games with her family.