Like all other sectors, the pandemic expedited digital transformation in education. School districts and universities around the globe found themselves making years’ worth of changes rapidly, as the coronavirus shutdown resulted in a mad dash to a new, fully remote “normal.” As schools continue to make sense of distance learning strategies, it is imperative that they factor long-term cybersecurity considerations into their plans.
Each day since the pandemic began, educators and administrators are forced to confront systems that have seen an overwhelming and tremendous surge in usage. The process of implementing new e-learning technologies at scale created significant gaps in security. In fact, according to one report, “the average number of weekly attacks per organization in the academic sector increased by 30 percent July through August of 2019.”
Given the number of individuals involved in, and affected by, the education system, the idea of “move fast break things” may leave those who lack a proper cybersecurity infrastructure at a particularly high risk from cyber threats. Prioritizing cybersecurity in education has never been more pertinent.
Here are some key cybersecurity philosophies and tips to keep in mind while distance learning remains in place across the country.
It’s not a matter of if – but when.
There’s a saying in the cybersecurity community: it’s not a matter of if a bad actor will strike, but when. We’ve already seen an uptick in bad actors actively targeting school districts and the remote student population. The effects of these attacks have ranged from “Zoom Bombing,” exploiting collaboration solutions to bombard virtual meetings, and shutting down internal networks – effectively rendering internal communications useless.
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