How to ensure your district networks are safe and secure

COVID closed in-person classrooms and also gave a boost to cyberthreats to school district networks. As data security breaches–including ransomware attacks, phishing, and unauthorized disclosures–show no sign of slowing, K-12 IT leaders need to be ready.

IT teams understand how important cybersecurity measures are, but many struggle to pinpoint where to begin when their resources are limited.

Threats to K-12 education networks will never be eliminated, but there are strategies to successfully defend sensitive school district information. Want to learn more? Join a conversion with fellow edtech leaders and experts as they share best practices on both the technical aspects–software and services–and the human aspects–professional development and community education–of keeping your district networks safe and sound.…Read More

Learn how secure, compliant workflows with Adobe are helping schools improve efficiencies, data security & compliance

Building efficiencies in your back office (or should we say back school) operations is essential to running a compliant school operation. Amongst the myriad disruptions to school district operations last year, the ability to properly manage traditionally paper-based processes was taken away. The only solution was to automate—and most schools have discovered they are better off because of it. Replacing old paper trails with codified digital workflows complete with e-signatures not only better protects the data on those forms but better ensures the validity of the transactions themselves.

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Join eSchool News’ panel of experts in the second part of our webinar series to discuss building efficiencies and data security and compliance in education. Hear how replacing those folders filled with parent-signed health and AUP forms with online solutions improves the user experience for everyone—parent, teacher, and administrator alike. Learn methods to capture signatures for important documents like IEPs and vendor contracts while staying compliant and also saving time and money.…Read More

4 strategies this administrator uses to evaluate free resources

When school districts made the rapid shift to online learning due to the pandemic, many educators scrambled to find the right mix of learning tools, apps, and platforms to support instruction.

As a result, more and more companies began offering online learning apps and products for free–often for a limited trial period. While free online resources can be useful, if left unvetted they can pose data security and privacy risks.

Evaluating the products, tools, and resources being used by staff and students is important, however time is not always on our side (as was the case at the beginning of the pandemic). My district, Mashpee Public Schools, leverages data to assess the safety and efficacy of free resources and identify what’s worth investing in. Here’s how we navigate the decision-making process.…Read More

4 simple questions school leaders should ask about cybersecurity

In today’s world where hacking and other forms of cyber-attacks abound, it isn’t enough to simply expect that the IT staff has data security under control. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors, in 2016, cyber threats costs the U.S. economy between $57 and $100 billion. The same document articulated that “cybersecurity is a common good.” Schools are not immune, and a recent review of a dark web marketplace by Flashpoint for access to compromised Remote Desktop Protocol servers proved that. Two-thirds of the server information available was from educational entities.

School district leaders needs to be proactive in asking the following questions to ensure that data security is being taken seriously. Are realistic safeguards in place to protect student and staff privacy? Can your district recover data in the case of an emergency or disaster?

Question 1: Are your password procedures up to speed?
Password and account security needs to be ramped up. Required password changes should be implemented at least each semester, if not every 90 days. IT staff are often hesitant to require such changes as staff grumble about this and take up a great amount of help desk time when changes are required. Leadership should try to insulate the IT staff from these types of complaints and at the same time ensure that strong password policies are in place. Passwords are moving toward a dozen characters and reQu1ring! the inclusion of capital letters, numbers, and special characters. Make sure no one shares their passwords with anyone—not even their trusted assistant.…Read More

How to avoid accidental data breaches

Universities present particular challenges in securing sensitive information.
Universities present particular challenges in securing sensitive information.

College campuses are centers for learning and exploration, where students and faculty develop, exchange, and trade information. More than most other organizations, colleges and universities are in a continuous state of information sharing and data creation, and they rely heavily on the ability to seamlessly share, store, and protect that information within their communities and among their partners.

What’s more, life on a campus is always in flux. Students and faculty come and go, and their need to access certain information, not to mention physical campus locations such as dormitories and labs, is fluid.…Read More

Microsoft calls for cloud-computing regulations

One-third of Americans surveyed say they store their photos on remote servers.
One-third of Americans surveyed say they store their photos on remote servers.

A Microsoft official argued Jan. 20 that the U.S. Congress should create rules and regulations for cloud computing, a burgeoning technology that has gained traction among schools and colleges.

As a growing number of businesses, governments, schools, and universities store sensitive data on off-site servers managed by third parties, lawmakers should draft legislation that would protect the integrity of this information, said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft Corp. and keynote speaker in a meeting of technology experts at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.…Read More