Top Cyber Security Threats & Tips for Educators

The past 18 months has been a trying time for the Schools and the Education sector.

There was a dramatic and quick shift to an entirely new model of learning, coupled with the potential deployment of technology that wasn’t fully vetted, and which educators and students weren’t fully prepared to use, and cyber criminals knew this and were quick to try to exploit it.

This resulted in an almost immediate and serious increase in the number of cyber-attacks targeting educational organisations specifically and, even though we’re now coming out the other side of this, the criminals show no signs of abating.

So cyber security is a priority for schools and further education and in this short article we’re going to take a broad view of what educators should know — the top threats, and our top tips for how to deal with them.

After all, staying informed and learning the best practices of cyber security to protect yourself and your students is always the best first step to take.

Top Threats

Below are the top cybersecurity threats faced by teachers in 2021.

· Phishing: These attacks leverage social engineering by exploiting human nature to trick victims into giving up sensitive information such as passwords or credit card details. Over 90% of cyberattacks today start with a phishing attack, according to recent reports.

· Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS): These attacks occur when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of the local servers. These attacks can bring systems to a standstill and cause severe disruption.

· Data Breach: A data breach is a security incident in which private or sensitive information (such as student data) is accessed without authorization. Student and educator data breaches are consistently reported as being one of the most common types of attack and successful attacks can cause great harm, often leading on to fraud, extortion, and other criminal activities affecting those whose data was lost.

· Ransomware: These threats involve hackers holding data hostage in exchange for money or other demands. Ransomware has grown to become one of the most common forms of attack and can be devastating when successful, causing huge disruption, financial loss and reputational harm.

· IoT Vulnerabilities: IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as laptops, smart home accessories and tablets often lack security or are not updated on a regular basis, making it vital for teachers to prioritize security when incorporating IoT devices into the classroom. Typically, IoT devices get overlooked as they can be diverse, but they have proliferated in recent years and should be included in update cycles alongside more “standard” IT hardware.

Top Tips

Now that you understand the cyber threats that educators face today, you might be wondering, what do I need to do to ensure myself, my school and my students are safe?

Here are some tips you can follow to help prevent these attacks.

· Encrypt Your Data: Hackers today can obtain classroom data by intercepting it while actively in transit. By protecting your data using encryption, you can prevent cyber attackers from stealing the data that you send and receive.

· Comply With Your Institution’s Cyber Protocols: Your school should have clear processes and usage policies in place, and it is vital to know and to follow these and to contact those responsible for managing your IT if an issue arises.

· Safeguard Your Devices from Physical Attacks: Always log out of your computer when you step away. To keep passwords safe, try to avoid writing them down or entering your credentials within view of someone else.

· Back Up Your Data: If your work or institution requires the storage of student data, it is important to back it up to prevent attackers from targeting this private data in Ransomware-style attacks where you may be locked out until a ransom is paid.

· Practice Good Password Management: It’s easy to take shortcuts when it comes to passwords. A password management program can help you to maintain unique passwords for all your accounts with ease. *Look out for a new article, coming soon, where we will focus on Password Managers and how to use them*

Ready to take the first steps toward better cybersecurity?

If you would like to know more about It Support or other IT managed services that can drastically reduce your cybersecurity risk, get in touch with us.

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