Damages from cybercrime are expected to cost $6 trillion in 2022. That’s more than double the estimated cost in 2015! While we usually hear about ransomware attacks on corporations or government offices, the education sector isn’t out of reach of cybercriminals.

It’s no secret that our world is becoming increasingly digital, and with technology pervading every aspect of our lives, it’s more important than ever for schools to focus on cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, many schools are still not taking the necessary precautions to protect their students and staff from online scams and security breaches. In this blog post, we will discuss why cybersecurity should be a top priority for schools and provide some tips on how they can improve their security measures.

school cybersecurity - middle school students with class ipads

Easy Targets

Why are schools such a tempting target for cybercriminals? Schools often have outdated or inadequate security measures in place, they store a lot of valuable data, and they’re not always aware of the latest cybersecurity threats. Additionally, school staff and students can be careless with their passwords and may not be educated enough on cybersecurity best practices.

With more students using personal devices to do school work, campuses need to have public wifi networks, which makes schools particularly vulnerable. All of these things combined create a perfect storm for cyberattacks.

Threats Facing Academic Institutions

One of the biggest dangers to schools is ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data on a victim’s computer and then demands payment in order to restore access. Ransomware can also come with a threat to leak data unless a payment is given. Schools are considered one of the most important targets for hackers because they store a wealth of data, from students’ personal information to their school records, as well as sensitive information on their teachers and administrators.

While ransomware is a major threat to schools, there are other cybersecurity risks to be considered as well. Students are especially vulnerable to scams and phishing attacks. In fact, it was found that nearly one-third of students had fallen for a scam while online. And with more and more schools implementing online learning options, the risk of cybersecurity breaches is only going to increase.

So what can schools do to improve their cybersecurity? Here are three tips:

1) Clear Policies

First, schools can start by creating a cybersecurity policy and making sure everyone is aware of it. This will help guarantee that everyone is following proper cybersecurity procedures, like having strong passwords (and not sharing those passwords) and taking the correct steps if they receive an email from someone they don’t know.

2) Strong Software

Second, schools should install firewalls and antivirus software to protect their computer systems. They should also keep the software updated to minimize vulnerabilities.

3) Regular Testing (don’t worry, they’re not graded)

Third, they should regularly test their cybersecurity defenses to make sure they are effective. Penetration testing is one example. This involves a cybersecurity firm attempting to breach your network in order to discover any security flaws.

The Bottom Line on School Cybersecurity

Schools should be taking the necessary precautions to protect their students and staff from online scams and security breaches. Cybercriminals are targeting schools more than ever, while students and school staff are becoming increasingly careless when it comes to their cybersecurity.

If schools want to protect themselves from cyberattacks, they need to have a strong security measures in place. ITS Group can help academic institutions create and implement a strong school cybersecurity policy. Penetration testing will help identify any security weaknesses, and education on cybersecurity best practices will help protect students and staff from cyber threats.

Contact ITS Group today to learn more about to protect your institution from cyberattacks.

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