Making the Digital World Safer for Children

ACSI is proud to be sponsoring the 2018 ATLE Professional Development Day for Alberta School Zones 2 & 3 on May 18th in Edmonton. As it is coming up, it is prudent to explore what IT administrators, educators, and parents can do to make the digital world safer for children.

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Cyberattacks Against Educational Institutions

Cyber attacks against educational institutions are becoming more and more popular because hackers see teachers and parents as being ill-equipped to deal with cyber threats. The lack of cybersecurity knowledge and that fact that schools hold sensitive data about students – such as the children’s’ medical records – makes them a hot target for cybercriminals.

Each schools’ network has multiple entry points due to the rise in educational technology and BYOD wireless programs. While BYOD educational environments and one-to-one computing can be advantageous for students, many schools are not equipped to deal with the necessary IT infrastructure and security needs that come with it. 

Cyber Attacks Against Schools

As reported in the Telegraph, a report published by Ecclesiastical says that malware and phishing scams are the most popular types of attacks against schools. However, these are not the only types of attacks.

Another common attack against schools is a distributed denial of service (DDoS). DDoS happens when a hacker takes the network offline by gaining control of the computers and overwhelming the network with traffic.

Hackers can also use ransomware to attack schools. Ransomware attacks happen when the hacker uses malware to block access to a computer system and will hold it ransom until money is received.

A recent example of an Alberta Higher Education Institution being impacted was reported by Metro News. MacEwan University was the victim of a cyber attack in 2017, the university was defrauded of $11.8-million after scammers convinced university staff to change banking information for one of their primary vendors.

Related: Education For Educators: How Fortinet Can Improve Your School’s IT Network

How Can Schools Protect Themselves?

When it comes to cybersecurity, it is essential for schools to implement specific standards of practice. In fact, most post-secondary institutions in Alberta already have their own set of guidelines. These guidelines include continually reviewing cyber-security processes and systems of checks and balances.

Educational institutions need to implement network security solutions to keep their networks safe. Part of this is having a robust malware protection software that is regularly updated. 

3 Keys Security Measures to Implement

  • Regularly back up your files.
    • When you periodically back up your data, you can still get access to them if a ransomware attack occurs. Your regular backup schedule should have read/write restrictions. There shouldn’t be the option to modify or delete any of the files.
  • Trust cautiously.
    • Malicious links can seem to come from the most trustworthy sources. If you receive something out of the ordinary from a colleague, you should call that person directly to verify they sent it.
  • Regularly update your school’s operating systems.
    • Ensure your system is regularly scanned for gaps that could be taken advantage of by hackers. By regularly updating your operating system you will be able to patch any potential vulnerabilities. You should also have an up-to-date malware protection software.

Cybercriminals target anything that isn’t strongly protected. If they can find a way in, they’ll exploit every vulnerability they can. School networks are incredibly easy for cybercriminals to attack because a lot of them do not have effective security systems in place. ACSI can provide top-of-the-line network security solutions that will help protect your school by strengthening your security measures.

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