Rapidly Increasing Threats in the Education Sector – Why Cybersecurity Should be a Priority in 2022

Securus360

Cybersecurity events in the education sector hit record highs in 2021 and are expected to continue to rise in 2022. These events are disruptive and costly to universities and school districts with the potential to shut down entire networks and compromise an enormous amount of personally identifiable student and staff data; yet cybersecurity is continuing to be an underfunded, lower and often misunderstood priority. In fact, the education sector was recently noted as the least secure industry with the highest amount of vulnerabilities present.  

How is the Education Sector Vulnerable?

The education sector includes a broad range of institutions ranging from renowned universities to smaller school districts and private schools, and while the types of threats that these institutions face may vary, one fact remains the same – they are all becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks at an alarming rate. Over the last 22 months, education institutions have had to face the rapid adaptation of online learning options to accommodate staff and student safety during the pandemic. With such a swift transition from pen and paper to tablets and chrome books, school district and university IT professionals have had little time to evaluate the risks and significant vulnerabilities these changes introduce, let alone draft protocols to keep their infrastructures protected.

Increased reliance on connected devices means a drastic increase in risk for insider threats like Phishing and Malware as well as a much higher likelihood of reckless end user activity. While student behavior is a more obvious risk, employees of schools and universities can, unwittingly, be just as destructive without proper training and knowledge of safe operating practices.

The Top 3 Threats for Schools

DDOS Attacks – Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS attacks are a common type of attack on educational institutions. In this type of attack, the attacker’s objective is to cause widespread disruption to the organization’s network, inflicting a negative impact on productivity. This type of attack is particularly easy for even an amateur cybercriminal to carry out successfully.

Data Breach/Theft – Education venues are particularly valuable to cyber criminals due the hefty amount of data they contain. Student and staff social security numbers, employee bank accounts as well as other personally identifiable data for students, faculty and staff make school systems one of the most targeted institutions.

Ransomware – This type of cybersecurity attack consists of a malicious software that is designed to block access to a device or network until a sum of money is paid to unlock it. The volume of data and devices that educational institutions typically manage as well as the swift migration to distance learning has created a more urgent vulnerability to threats of this type.

What are the Main Challenges for Educational Institutions Seeking Cybersecurity?

There is a broad range of challenges that schools and universities face when seeking solutions to empower their cybersecurity efforts, however the two most prevalent challenges faced today are lack of funding as well as lack of knowledge and training for the user population.

It is common practice for education organizations to operate within very strict annual budgets. This lack of resources to invest in a robust cybersecurity posture, whether it be adding staff or a software solution, poses a significant challenge.

IT professionals industry-wide are working at a rapid pace to compensate for the alarming increase in risks to their networks. As devices are becoming more integrated with both the administrative side of operations and the day-to-day activity of staff and students, it is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce proper network use policies. Inability to control the volume of personal devices utilizing cloud networks also contributes to this significant challenge.

How Can Educational Institutions Confidently Address Cybersecurity Issues?

In addition to prioritizing effective knowledge transfer and training for as many network users as possible, embracing effective and proven cybersecurity technology is key. Managed eXtended Detection & Response (MXDR), like Securus360 MXDR, provides a fully integrated all-inclusive network security monitoring solution that delivers industry leading threat visibility across an institution’s entire infrastructure. Securus360 MXDR monitors all end-points, servers, networks, cloud instances, and user behavior, all presented on a single pane of glass. In addition, this comprehensive cybersecurity solution effectively addresses the challenge of limited funding. With a very streamlined implementation process, Securus360 MXDR is an affordable option for education institutions, even those that must adhere to stringent budgets.

Securus360 MXDR

With 24/7/365 monitoring and protection, MXDR from Securus360 provides IT professionals in the education sector a proven solution that delivers the strongest defense and containment platform available to address the threat landscape at it continues to evolve and the attacks continue to accelerate. Schedule your cybersecurity evaluation and Securus360 MXDR demo now!

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