This means that for an IT department to be successful, it must take on the accountability for managing cyber safeguards and involve leadership in its conversations surrounding specific risks. By creating a healthy culture of discussion between the superintendent, board, and educators, IT can promote a holistic way of working within a more formalized governance, risk, and compliance program (GRC). In recognizing security risk management as everyone’s responsibility, district stakeholders and administrators can work together to decide how to best handle the risk at hand with minimal impact on instruction time.
Must-Have Layers of Protection
The ongoing lack of cybersecurity awareness has led to an overly reactive security culture. Benchmarking is about moving to a proactive posture and one that actively establishes practical defenses against attackers.
Establishing such defenses requires securing data through:
- Multi-factor authentication – require additional steps to successfully login
- Identity and access management systems – better control user access
- Endpoint protection – consistently protect desktops, laptops and mobile devices
- Backup and recovery – create, store and proactively test data availability
- “Fire drill” testing – implement ongoing testing to verify resilience
- Ongoing training – continual education and awareness keeps security at the forefront
The Center for Internet Security is a critical resource that allows institutions to implement a standard, secure baseline for cyber assistance that ranges from firewall configurations to endpoint security that can help better protect schools from the most common threats they face today and tomorrow.
Additionally, building content awareness, including knowing what data exists, how it’s shared and where it’s located, helps create a layer of resilience against ransomware through the tightening of access and making informed decisions during an attack. Establishing monitoring systems and training staff and students on proper internet hygiene also helps reduce weak entry points and the risk of malware corruption.
With good internet hygiene, passwords can be strengthened and a powerful, foundational approach to cybersecurity can be nurtured and expanded. As user traffic continues to expand well beyond the traditional model of network security within school grounds, safeguarding that access is clearly key.
That said, securing your digital environment while striking the right balance in authentication security does not have to be an overly time-consuming or cost-prohibitive process. With identity and access management (IAM), the entire education ecosystem can benefit from consistent, automated management while simultaneously advancing single sign-on and meaningful insights to classroom analytics. Additionally, utilizing IAM can safeguard learning environments for all users while maximizing instructional time to accelerate learning.
The massive uptick in ransomware attacks not only spawns a renewed emphasis on identity-centric security, but it also stands as an opportunity for IT, curriculum, and board members to work together to innovate and protect at the same time – all guided by bolstered benchmarks that can make a true difference in the wake of growing cyber challenges.
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