Three Cyberthreats to Your School and Smart Solutions

Three Cyberthreats to Your School and Smart Solutions
Three Cyberthreats to Your School and Smart Solutions

Business and Operations

Schools have faced cybersecurity risks for some time now, and cyberattacks have increased significantly during the pandemic. Even long after COVID-19 is behind us, educational institutions will remain vulnerable because they are online—as schools expand their online presence, criminal activity will become more threatening. Avoiding cyberthreats is essential.

General cybersecurity protections are a smart idea, but they are not the only safeguards your school should use. Cyberinsurance can give you the technology, legal expertise, and tools to respond to and recover from a breach if one occurs.

According to claims data, 4.7% of all cyberinsurance policyholders were faced with an incident or filed a claim in 2018. That number increased to 6.2% in 2019 and is expected to be higher when 2020 figures come in. As much as you try to prevent cyber attacks, they can happen to anyone.

Why Schools Are Targeted

You may think that schools are not vulnerable to cybercriminal activity because they aren’t large corporations. But schools have valuable data. Attacking a school isn’t about taking data or money—or selling data. Schools are targeted because they are closely tied to the community, so that a breach can create significant disruption.

While many schools employ a dedicated IT leader or team, this doesn’t guarantee protection. Antivirus scanners aren’t enough to safeguard schools, either.

Preparation is key to protection. Here are three threats that equate to 87% of cybersecurity claims.

Threat #1—Ransomware

Ransomware involves maliciously approaching a user (commonly via email). The user inadvertently downloads malware that encrypts their files. Then the attacker demands a ransom be paid to restore the data.

Sometimes the attacker threatens to disclose the breach if the ransom isn’t paid. There was a 47% increase in the occurrence of ransomware between the first two quarters of 2020.

Threat #2—Funds transfer fraud

There has been a sizable uptick in funds transfer fraud.

Funds transfer fraud occurs when a third party sends instructions to the school’s bank claiming the school authorized a payment. This typically happens via email phishing. Third-party scammers gain access to school bank credentials by tricking employees into logging into fake bank sites or install software to gather information.

From there, it’s relatively easy to contact the bank or log into the bank’s website and move funds over.

Threat #3—Business email compromise

Cybercriminals often approach individuals from a single point of entry to entice them to transfer funds or get them to download malware. Email is commonly the original entry point for many cases of cyberfraud.

60% of cybersecurity claims originated through contact from business or school email messages—this represents a 67% increase in the frequency of business email compromise attacks between 2019 and 2020.

(Interestingly, if your school uses Microsoft Office 365, you’re more likely to get these emails than Google Mail).


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How to Protect Your School

Education about smart online practices is key to preventing attacks. However, schools should also invest in other options to provide the best level of protection.

Cyberinsurance can provide technical and legal advice to prevent breaches—or respond in the event of one. Knowing how to respond is vital and could mean that your school does not fall victim to a costly attack.

A cyberinsurance provider can advise you on breach legalities, understand ransoms paid, assist with digital asset restoration, and notify your school about other related issues.

Cyberinsurance is a smart choice for schools to prevent, respond to, and mitigate cyberattacks. Your school’s reputation counts, and a single breach could be devastating to it. Leverage cybersecurity measures and cyberinsurance when pointing out your school’s competitive advantages. Keeping your data and your students secure provides added peace of mind to staff and parents—also a crucial selling point in today’s digital culture.

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