The coronavirus pandemic has undergone profound changes in many areas. Education was not alien to this aspect, and it had profound effects. Therefore, we have seen a significant increase in remote and online learning. This transition has forced many schools to implement innovative solutions, vulnerabilities have emerged, and education needs to improve its cybersecurity.
It’s alarming as schools have become a new target for cybercriminals.
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The safety problem in the schools came from before
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was in a notice that cybersecurity was not a priority for education. These problems arise from a lack of funds and adequately trained personnel. Besides, It has left schools with basic system configuration errors or old unsolved problems.
With the transition to a digital world, these effects can be more damaging today. Schools recognize that they need knowledge and up-to-date technology infrastructure to deliver virtual learning safely in the long term. With this in mind, education needs to improve its cybersecurity by adequately modernizing.
Threats to education
Education is an attractive option for cybercriminals because of the large amount of data it contains. How they could obtain information in the education sector:
- About the staff and students.
- Databases of students and graduates.
- Information about the provider.
- Research data.
Cybercriminals will have several ways to take advantage of these educational centres’ security, as they work with legacy systems that are not prepared for today’s attacks. Ransomware attacks have occurred at universities where attackers stole or deleted data from users’ systems. Furthermore, they have made computers inaccessible and requested a ransom to return data access.
Additionally, students are increasingly using personal devices to connect to school networks. Therefore, school systems are more likely to be put at risk as multiple entry points are created that facilitate cybercriminals’ work. Besides, an important fact is that plans are only as robust as their weakest point, and often outdated or outdated personal devices can leave these school networks vulnerable.
Education needs to improve its cybersecurity
The best way to advance cybersecurity is to be proactive, not reactive. Schools shouldn’t wait for an attack to build their defences. IT teams, teachers, and students should create a security plan to stay safe online. This plan should include documentation that anyone can refer to at any time, and that provides:
- Best Practices for Smart Online Use.
- On-demand training, news, and current trends in cybersecurity.
- The contact details of those responsible can act if the network is compromised.
On the other hand, IT administrators have to perform regular penetration tests. One option could be to appoint a red team to uncover potential vulnerabilities. In this way, the school system is checked under real conditions and without notice. And, also It can help identify weaknesses that may not be easy to discover. In RedesZone, we recommend reading the tutorial to learn how to do pen-testing.
Improve safety in schools with UEM
The digital transformation in education must be long-term. Some useful strategies we can implement to improve cybersecurity are:
- The use of patch procedures.
- Multi-factor authentication.
- The use of anti-virus software.
- Disable macro and scripting environments.
With this in mind, using solutions like Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) can be helpful in our cybersecurity strategy. Thanks to UEM, a higher security level is added to all devices used in education, be it laptops, tablets, or smartphones. And also, it enables schools to manage all terminals and applications wirelessly and in real-time. It allows schools to have optimal computer visibility and use mobile threat detection to prevent potential attacks. The remote view will also enable teachers and IT staff to view students’ screens and help them with the necessary steps. It means that risky behaviour stops before a more significant problem occurs.
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