7 ways schools can improve their cybersecurity efforts

A comprehensive approach to cybersecurity will help schools prevent network breaches.

A comprehensive approach to cybersecurity will help schools prevent network breaches.

Cyberspace has become a much more dangerous place over the past few years. Twenty-seven million separate strains of malware were discovered in 2012 alone. All told, there are roughly 125 million forms of damaging software lurking in cyberspace.

School administrators traditionally haven’t had as much to fear from hackers compared to other industries, but this is quickly changing. The wealth of personal student information is a tempting target for criminals looking to make some cash from identity theft and fraud. It isn’t just money-motivated criminals schools have to worry about either. Foreign hackers out to disrupt major institutions and activists just looking to make a point have also joined the cybercrime fray.

To combat these emerging threats, schools need to have an extensive layered security system in place. The components of a solid cyberdefense include:

  1. Strong Domain Name System (DNS): Often referred to as the phone book of the internet, DNS essentially connects domain names with their IP addresses. One of the best ways to keep a school’s DNS strong is to constantly update it and remove any bugs that could be exploited.
  2. Well-trained staff: Having the best security system in the world won’t do a school much good if its staff is opening up the network to attacks. Employees should be taught to avoid untrustworthy websites and not to use weak or obvious passwords.
  3. Centralized IT: A fractured IT team can lead to a lack of oversight and confusion over who should be doing what. Having a centralized division can ensure that someone is monitoring every aspect of a school’s cybersecurity.
  4. Routine network scans: IT complacency is the first step to a devastating network breach. Running regular network scans will ensure that any malware in the system is quickly identified and removed.
  5. Reboot to restore: It’s always a good practice to have a saved configuration of a system on hand in case administrators ever need to revert to pre-infected settings.
  6. Powerful anti-virus: It’s absolutely essential that IT teams have a strong anti-virus program on hand to remove any malware that has infected a system.
  7. Whitelisting: With a dedicated list of approved applications, school administrators can be sure that only the programs they want to run have access to their network.

Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for cybersecurity. IT teams need to plan for every avenue of attack and shore up defenses at every level. By covering all their bases, schools can build the best security system possible.

Does your school have adequate security measures in place? What else can IT teams do to prevent data breaches? Leave us a message in the comments sections or on our Facebook page!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.