Primary and secondary-school classes are now in session throughout most of the U.S. As teachers and students gear up for another year of learning, IT admins prepare for another year of cyberattacks. In the past few months, hackers have hit several school districts. In June, a secretary with the Holley Central School District in New York discovered a data breach that dated back to April 2016. While few technical details pertaining to the breach have been made public, it’s believed that hackers stole personally identifiable information belonging to 150 staff members.
A similar incident occurred in the Arlington Public School District in Spring 2016, affecting an estimated 28 district workers. District officials claim the breach most likely occurred as a result of login credential theft, and that this might not be the first time that PII was stolen from parents and student in that district.
These are only two incidents in a long line of cyberattacks that have targeted educational institutions, some of which have previously included ransomware and other forms of malware. It begs the question: Are your educator endpoints secure?
Why Application Control is Essential
All teacher and student endpoints, including desktops, laptops and other devices running on Windows operating systems need to be limited in the types of applications that they’re free to download, install and execute. This requires an application control program.
Anti-Executable Service in Deep Freeze Cloud helps protect computers from malicious applications such as specific forms of malware. Deep Freeze Cloud admins can whitelist and blacklist certain executables. From here, they can predetermine trusted users, as well as external users. The former will have more freedom to access applications (i.e. a teacher of administrative staff member), whereas the latter (students or guests) can only access authorized software. This will help school administrations guard their Windows computing environments from unknown/ malicious executables.
Layered Cyberthreat Protection
“A robust cybersecurity product suite is a bare necessity in an educational IT environment.”
By now it should go without saying that a robust cybersecurity product suite is a bare necessity in an educational IT environment. This requires active protection, which is real-time malware detection capabilities. It requires a network firewall that safeguards bi-directional (incoming and outgoing) data traffic. Likewise, email protection is essential for the scanning and identification of harmful messages that may contain ransomware, spyware, adware, viruses and other malicious software. This will help prevent students who don’t any better from opening links to harmful pages or downloading dangerous attachments.
Last but not least, it’s worth realizing that even the best defenses can sometimes fall. When this happens, it’s important to have a way to quickly reconfigure endpoints so as to prevent educators and students from losing access to the systems they need. Faronics Deep Freeze Cloud’s reboot to restore functionality provides this quick reset. Upon a system restart, admin configurations are reinstated, and pernicious programs are eradicated.
It’s not easy to protect the many threat vectors in an educational computing environment. But with the right combination of an anti-executable tool, a multi-layered anti-virus and a reboot to restore tool, it’s certainly possible.