Even large school districts with extensive IT budgets and prolific measures in place are not always capable of preventing a cybersecurity attack from occurring. All it takes is one person on one computer to click a link or download a file to create havoc. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize employee awareness training, strong partnerships, and zero-trust. And for school leaders, it’s crucial that you don’t wait until an attack happens to take action.
On August 8, First Lady Jill Biden joined Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, school administrators, and educators from across the country for the Back to School Safely: Cybersecurity Summit for K-12 Schools. The summit coincided with an announcement from the White House regarding government investments to better protect student privacy, including cybersecurity training and a proposed investment of $200 million for a pilot program for school and library attack prevention.
As longtime advocates of student data privacy and the architects of a more sophisticated and secure method of data exchange that replaces traditional rostering, GG4L is thrilled to see the government take a more proactive role in helping schools protect student data privacy. The steps outlined by the White House are an excellent beginning for an era of more secure schools. GG4L recommends schools take the following actions:
Cybersecurity Training and Awareness
Educate staff, students, and parents about cybersecurity best practices. Develop training programs that cover topics such as password hygiene, phishing awareness, social engineering tactics, and safe internet usage. Promote a culture of cybersecurity by regularly sharing updates about potential threats and how to avoid them. By empowering individuals with knowledge, schools can reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. Check out our free Certified Data Privacy Administrator course.
Regular Software Updates and Patch Management
Schools should implement a strong patch management process to keep all software, operating systems, and applications up to date. Many cyberattacks exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. Regularly applying security patches and updates helps close these vulnerabilities and protect against potential breaches. Implement an automated system for tracking and applying patches to ensure that all devices are properly maintained.
Robust Network Security Measures
Secure the school’s network infrastructure with strong measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and intrusion prevention systems. Segment the network to restrict access between different parts of the network, such as administrative systems and student devices. Implement secure Wi-Fi protocols, strong encryption, and guest network options. Regularly audit network configurations to identify and rectify any potential security gaps.
Gain Control of PII Data
Duplicating student data for each EdTech vendor with which the school partners has become the standard operating procedure for traditional rostering services. This approach allows for increased ransomware attacks, extended downtime where districts cannot even access their own data, and costly lawsuits. School Passport minimizes the surface area to attack using cutting-edge technology to solve the problem that traditional rostering vendors have created. We don’t prevent schools from using EdTech vendors; we simply provide both a better way to share data with these vendors and a way to visualize how the data is being used along with tools that allow schools to take action to shut down unauthorized use of PII data.
We also provide a comprehensive dashboard that allows school IT leaders to visualize quickly which EdTech is putting their school at risk and actionable ways to correct the problem and lock down PII data. Ultimately, School Passport helps schools keep private PII data private.
Remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing effort. Schools should regularly review and update their cybersecurity strategies as new threats emerge and technology evolves. It’s also advisable to involve cybersecurity experts or consultants to assess the school’s systems and provide recommendations tailored to its specific needs and resources.
As a public benefit corporation dedicated to data privacy and a revolutionary new way to provide secure data integration, we are proud to sign the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency SecurebyDesign pledge.
Learn more about our product School Passport.