Business and Operations
Cyberattacks are expected to occur every 11 seconds in 2021—and unfortunately, K–12 schools are increasingly at risk, thanks to distance learning. Some of the biggest threats are ransomware and funds transfer fraud. Threats commonly occur via the entry point of email, also known as "business email compromise."
Knowing how to reduce your risk for a cyberattack must be a top priority. Lower your risk for a cyberattack and keep your school safe with these 10 tips.
Tip #1—Deploy Multifactor Authentication
Since students and teachers probably log in on networks outside the school, it's a good idea to verify their identity regardless of the network. Multifactor authentication is a way to verify user identity (often via email or text) to log in.
Tip #2—Verify Wire Transfers
Funds transfer fraud is on the rise. In this scam, employees are tricked into logging into fake bank sites or installing software to gather information. These mistakes can allow third parties to access your school's bank credentials—making it easy for a fraudster to transfer funds.
Require your staff to verify vendors requesting money.
Tip #3—Conduct Routine Backups
It may sound like a no-brainer, but regularly backing up information can safeguard it—and offer insights into resolving any cyberattack. Your Information Technology (IT) personnel should monitor your school network and any equipment students and staff use at home.
Tip #4—Encourage Proper Password Management
Encourage users to create strong passwords and use a password manager. This can significantly lower the risk that a cybercriminal can access multiple platforms.
Tip #5—Update User Systems
Personal devices running on outdated versions of operating systems present an entry point for cyberattackers. For instance, ensure you upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or to Catalina for Mac users.
Tip #6—Identify Protections
Ensure firewalls are correctly configured and secure on routers and computers. Schools should have a content filter to protect students from inappropriate content, as per the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
Tip #7—Store Data Safely
Ensure the school community's data is private and in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Schools have commonly moved to Cloud operating systems for data storage. The front line of defense for any Cloud system and to keep data secure is through encryption—methods utilizing complex algorithms to conceal protected information.
Tip #8—Create Policies
A surefire way to have a consistent protective system is to create policies and enforce them. Include these policies in your student and staff handbooks, which are acknowledged and signed each year.
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Tip #9—Pay Attention to Equipment
If you let students take school-owned devices home, ensure those units comply with all policies. Educate students about the rules governing device use and consider protecting equipment so others at home cannot log into your system.
Tip #10—Provide Education
Once you devise cybersafety policies for the school, it's vital to educate students and staff on what's expected, why safeguards are in place, and what they should do if they see anything suspicious. Consider sharing the FBI's Safety Online Surfing Program with your students and families.
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