Cybersecurity threats are no longer reserved for businesses, government agencies, and public industries. Public and private school systems are at an increased risk of security issues from cyber threats to IT infrastructure. In the past 5 years, there have been over 850 documented cases of cyber incidents in school systems throughout the United States.
Because a threat like cybercrime evolves rapidly, many school districts are turning to fully-managed tech and IT services to prevent larger issues. Such steps are crucial for protecting educational opportunities and private student data.
Keep reading to learn how managed cybersecurity services can be an asset to any school district.
What are Managed Cybersecurity Services?
Managed cybersecurity services fall under the broad umbrella of managed services. When an organization chooses managed IT services, important tasks related to network maintenance, cloud computing, security, and communication fall to the managed services provider (MSP).
This option is helpful for businesses and organizations that do not specialize in IT infrastructure. Many times, outsourcing provides better protection and greater flexibility than would be available by using internal resources.
Managed cybersecurity services include a broad range of tasks related to protecting sensitive information and establishing network security. This includes:
- Finding and patching network vulnerabilities (before they become a problem)
- Intrusion detection and prevention
- Identity management and personal access solutions
- Incident response and mitigation
Why Are School Districts Targeted?
Although any organization can become the victim of a cyber attack, school districts are uniquely positioned for vulnerabilities. One reason for rising cybercrime rates is that school systems, particularly those with smaller IT budgets, don’t often have the internal staff or resources needed to maintain highly secure networks. Hackers know that minimal resources often equates to an open door for carrying out their motives.
Education is also evolving. The activities that were once reserved for textbooks and paper submissions are now being conducted largely online, in virtual settings that cybercriminals can more easily access. With a large-scale switch to online learning, schools must add layers of protection that make it more difficult for cybercriminals to carry out attacks.
Cybersecurity Risks in School Systems
School systems fall victim to the same cybersecurity threats that happen in other industries. The key to preventing these risks is to have a working knowledge of what they are and how to spot the warning signs.
Phishing is one of the ways that cybercriminals gain access to educational systems. In this type of attack, scammers send targeted messages (such as emails or texts) to gain access to confidential information like passwords and personal data.
Ransomware attacks happen when cybercriminals steal and encrypt data from a network. In order to release this data, criminals often demand payment. Because school systems rely on so many devices and access points, ransomware poses a significant threat.