Best Practices for Engaging Staff and Students in K-12 Cybersecurity


Cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the consequences of a successful attack can be severe. With the increasing use of technology and remote learning, school districts are at a much higher risk of cyberattack, which is why it's critical to cultivate a culture of cybersecurity awareness throughout K-12 school districts.

Staff and students can be the weakest link or the first line of defense in a cyber security attack. Without proper education and training, staff, and students may inadvertently engage in risky online behavior, such as clicking on suspicious links, sharing sensitive information, or using weak passwords. These actions can put the entire school district at risk. Educating staff and students on best practices and encouraging them to report suspicious activity immediately, allows the school district to quickly identify potential threats and vulnerabilities and implement proactive steps to mitigate the risk. Creating a culture of cybersecurity awareness within the school district significantly reduces the risk of a successful cyberattack and protects the school district’s data, systems, and reputation.

  1. Educate staff and students on cybersecurity best practices: The methods used by cyber criminals are continually changing making it essential to provide regular training to staff and students on how to identify and avoid common cyber threats, such as phishing attacks, malware, and ransomware. Training programs should be interactive and engaging, using real-world examples and scenarios to make them more relatable. Training modules should be age appropriate. For younger students, training can be conducted through engaging cartoons and videos that are informative and easy to understand, as well as learning games. For older students and staff, more in-depth training can be provided covering cybersecurity topics, such as password security, two-factor authentication, safe browsing practices, threats via social media and how to quickly recognize and report potential threats.
  2. Encourage reporting of suspicious activity: Staff and students should be encouraged to report any suspicious activity or security incidents immediately. This helps to minimize damage and allows the school’s IT team to respond quickly and effectively. Educate students and staff on the process of reporting security incidents and ensure them that their reports will be anonymous and taken seriously. Encourage reporting by creating an incident reporting system that is easy to use and accessible to all. An incident reporting system could be a web-based platform, a phone number, and/or an email address where students and staff can report incidents anonymously. The reporting system should be regularly monitored, and any incidents reported must be investigated immediately.
  3. Create a culture of cybersecurity awareness: Schools can create a culture of cybersecurity awareness by promoting a positive and proactive approach to cybersecurity. This can be done by rewarding good cybersecurity practices, like reporting incidents or avoiding common cyber threats, and creating a sense of shared responsibility for cybersecurity. Create this culture by conducting regular cybersecurity awareness campaigns using posters and banners in classrooms, newsletters, and emails that promote best practices and highlight recent cyber threats. These campaigns should be creative, engaging, and interactive, to increase student and staff engagement.

With cyber attacks on the rise, there is no room for complacency when it comes to cyber security. Here are three best practices schools should implement to engage staff and students in helping to minimize the potential of a cybersecurity incident:

With so many cyber attacks preventable through awareness and training, incorporating an education and awareness program is critical to the success of any cyber security strategy. Implementing these best practices creates a strong defense against cyber threats.

Partner With Securus360 in 2023

Securus360 is focused exclusively on the K-12 education space and has developed a proven cybersecurity approach that is deployed at schools across the United States. The Securus360 Managed eXtended Detection & Response (MXDR) platform provides comprehensive protection against cyberattacks, including: detailed and ongoing vulnerability assessments, 24/7/365 real-time threat hunting, monitoring & detection, automated incident response and hybrid intelligence-based security analytics that combine Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with human cyber security analysts to ensure maximum alert accuracy.

To learn more contact Securus360 to schedule a time to speak with a cybersecurity expert.

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