It’s been a big year for cyberattacks in Australia. We have had three of the largest and most high-profile data breaches in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, it’s not just Australian businesses that are in the firing line, but our schools as well. The education and training sector reported the most ransomware incidents in 2021-22, rising from the fourth-highest reporting sector in 2020-21 according to the Australian Center for Cyber Security.1
Schools are a tempting target for cybercriminals. They collect a vast amount of data, from student demographics and grades to financial information and medical records. The increasing use of technology in schools due to the pandemic (cloud computing, online platforms and mobile devices) means that the volume of data is greater than ever. School leaders are under increasing pressure to secure school data and protect the well-being of students, their families, and staff.
So what are the main threats and what measures can be implemented to counter them?
A data breach is when sensitive information about students, parents, teachers, and staff is leaked or stolen. This information may include names, addresses, health information, financial information, and more.
To prevent data breaches, schools should ensure that their school management platforms use secure protocols to store and share data, use secure identity methods such as multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to the platform, and use security controls and alerts. security to monitor their environments. Just to name a few.
Ransomware and phishing attacks
These involve hackers encrypting a school’s data and demanding a ransom payment to unlock it.
Schools can protect themselves against ransomware attacks by regularly backing up their data, implementing strong password protocols, and training staff to avoid phishing scams. They should also practice restoring data from backups regularly and consider investing in cybersecurity insurance to mitigate the financial impact of a ransomware attack.
These technical measures are important, but schools must also educate students, teachers, and staff about the importance of good cybersecurity practices. For example, schools can conduct regular training to raise awareness about the dangers of phishing scams, password strength, and social engineering. Schools can also encourage students and staff to adopt good habits, such as using strong passwords, updating their software regularly, and reporting suspicious activity. Every step that can be taken should be taken as schools are required to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) and the General Data Protection Regulation.
There’s another way?
Sophisticated cloud-based educational platforms, backed by world-class security from a major technology company, offer an alternative. Connected Schools is a complete school management solution, built on Microsoft’s D365 platform, used by the entire school community. By bringing all facets of teaching, learning and administration into one dynamic system, it eliminates the need for schools to patch up their own technological puzzle with the associated risks.
Microsoft’s weight and strong security mechanisms provide peace of mind. Regular security updates address new threats and vulnerabilities, along with a host of other protective measures. Connected Schools can be integrated with other security solutions such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems to provide an even more comprehensive security posture, if required. Having such an enterprise-grade security platform is the best practice for school data protection.
School data security is a complex and constantly evolving challenge. It requires a holistic approach, from investing in the right technologies to educating students and staff. Schools must take a proactive stance to foster a safe and secure learning environment for their students, while building trust among their stakeholders.