3 key cyberthreats education institutes must guard against

Corporate

We take a look at the key cybersecurity challenges faced by educational institutes and how you can address them.

With valuable, and often underprotected data, education institutes are prime targets for cyberattackers.

On top of regular security challenges faced, the new complexities stemming from COVID-19 are offering cybercriminals tailormade scenario for attacking school networks, and giving education institutes even more security challenges that need to be addressed to keep students and student data safe and secure.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges these institutions must address:

1. Phishing scams

We’re seeing an uptick in coronavirus phishing scams, and so the chances of phishing emails making their way into the inboxes of teachers, administrators, and students is high.

Staff must be provided with comprehensive guidance that allows them to identify such emails. It’s critical to deploy advanced email security that blocks phishing emails, prevents data loss, encrypts email, and offers comprehensive protection against phishing.

2. Shortage of skilled IT security staff

This is a challenge not unique to schools, but lack of skilled IT staff particularly leaves a school network susceptible to threats.

Schools are shut down to control the spread of the pandemic. At most, there’s a skeletal staff at work, or else everyone is working from home. When this happens, who takes charge of your school’s IT security needs?

Schools can find themselves with no one pushing network security, device management, and endpoint security policies.

Critical reports identifying risky users, or which offer more information about regulatory compliance might not be leveraged effectively. This can give cybercriminals an opportunity to exploit weaknesses in your cybersecurity infrastructure to infect the network.

The answer to this challenge is managed threat response services (MTR). This service offers an expert team to deliver threat hunting, detection, and response services 24/7, so that you don’t have to. You don’t have to worry about spotting suspicious behaviors or whether your cybersecurity configuration is on point because the team manages all security needs for your education institute.

3. Advanced malware attacks

As students and teachers spend more time online during coronavirus lockdowns, they are susceptible to inadvertently becoming victims of an account takeover, unintentionally or carelessly sharing their information with cybercriminals.

This allows criminals to log in to your school’s network, launch a ransomware attack, and take control of sensitive student data.

The solution is to deploy advanced endpoint protection technologies to stop the attack chain and predictively prevent such attacks, features should also include automatic roll back to pre-altered state if files are encrypted. This will help protect data if students or teachers are using school-supplied laptops or tabs.

If they are using their own devices to access school resources, it is imperative they install a cybersecurity solution specifically catering to the needs of home users.

To maximize their safety, schools must also deploy a next-gen firewall that detects and blocks ransomware at the gateway, and also prevents its lateral movement.

Sophos can help

Sophos offers a powerful portfolio of products that deliver layered protection against evolving threats. Learn more about how Sophos can support efforts to secure your education institute on our   education protection page. Also, download our education reference card that offers more information on how Sophos can protect your institute against unique and sophisticated cybersecurity challenges.

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