Why schools need to boost their cybersecurity measures?

Educational institutions are in great danger as cybercriminals attack various schools, teachers, and students all over the country. In 2020 alone, a K-12 Cyber Incident Map recorded that 408 schools became victims of cybercrime. Various educational institutions were forced to pay millions of dollars—or else confidential information about their students and their staff would be leaked online. Now that the digital landscape is an important part of the education system, your school needs to implement cybersecurity measures urgently.

Schools Are Some of the Biggest Victims of Cybercrime

Ransomware attacks are quickly spreading across the nation to target government institutions, businesses, and, most especially, schools. In April,the University of California warned that cybercriminals are preying on more than 300 organizations, including the institution itself. A ransomware group had been threatening to leak private information regarding members of the university unless they were paid with a substantial amount of money. Unfortunately, other universities like Standford’s School of Medicine and the Reshiva University in New York have reported that the Social Security numbers and financial information of their students and staff were already stolen and leaked online.

Other tactics are also employed to illegally obtain money from students. Fraudulent scholarship invitations sent by cybercriminals are one of the ‘5 Common Scams That Are Targeting Teens Nationwide’. Fraudsters are posing as well-established universities to bait these interested students. They will ask applicants to pay for a registration fee or a scholarship raffle fee that will go straight to the scammers’ bank accounts. As a result, the students lose their hard-earned money, plus the universities whose names were involved can also get a bad reputation because of the crimes.

Indeed, universities and students are the top victims of cybercrimes, especially since remote learning was widely implemented. Hackers and fraudsters are scamming individuals and infecting networks to illegally obtain money. Palo Alto Networks reported that the ransom amount demanded by cybercriminals increased to an average of $312,000 last year. An organization was even forced to pay up to $10 million to save the members of its community.

How Schools Can Protect Themselves Against Cybercriminals

Despite losing their money (and even their credibility), schools are still falling victim to these nationwide cybercrime attacks. Highly skilled criminals can still access the sensitive data and financial information of teachers, administrative staff, students, and even parents because schools don’t have cybersecurity professionals and protocols in place. The American public school system remains vulnerable to these crimes because they don’t have cybersecurity professionals who can safeguard the institution and implement proper safety measures.

To fill this growing gap, schools themselves are tirelessly working to develop comprehensive cybersecurity programs, especially courses that can be accessed online as the structure of these courses help reach the widest pool of potential students as possible. Maryville University’s online cybersecurity degree program shows how these courses can be completed remotely with no campus visits required, allowing students to have flexible schedules. Furthermore, leading institutions like Maryville can give their students access to state-of-the-art technology, particularly the Virtual Lab that serves as the cybersecurity students’ main learning platform. This training ground lets students develop their skills based on real cases, such as cyber issues within educational institutions, which equips them with skills that can combat various techniques and strategies implemented by cybercriminals. With the help of these skilled professionals, schools can prevent cyberattacks from escalating and establish greater security measures for their systems.

Furthermore, schools can work with cybersecurity experts on implementing the practices recommended by the NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework. Through this guide, institutions can follow all the necessary steps in managing cybersecurity over time. They can learn how to identify their vulnerabilities and detect anomalies and threats. Schools can also guide their staff on how they can protect the digital system and recover from any kind of cyberattack, with the proper guidance of the cybersecurity professionals and framework.

Schools need to navigate through the digital landscape to remain accessible for their staff and their students. By establishing a cybersecurity team and following the right practices, your institution can benefit from these technologies and remain protected from cyber threats.

Article by: JBryan

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