7 Cybersecurity Threats Every K-12 School Faces

cybersecurity threats, See Something, Say Something at School

Ransomware. DDoS. Phishing. Identify theft.

Sadly, schools across the United States are becoming very familiar with these terms. Recent research indicates that K-12 institutions will have the highest rate of ransomware attacks of any industry in the coming years.

For example, releasing sensitive student and teacher information can lead to identity theft. A hacker’s encryption of students’ grades and teachers’ lesson plans can lead to a loss of productivity (especially if they are not backed up) and thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent on replicating data that is gone.

This is your opportunity to make cybersecurity a budget priority. Here are seven reasons why it’s important:

cybersecurity threats

  1. Clickbait.
    The email may look legitimate, but unfortunately, it is not. A hyperlink that sends you to a malicious site is embedded in the text. This link has now taken down your school’s system.

    Solution: Ensure every employee has the highest email filter settings for spam, phishing, and executable files. Employees should also be trained on what suspicious emails look like and always report suspected emails to the IT department.

  2. Outdated Technology.
    Your school may feel they need to hold onto computers and tablets until they break. The problem with this plan is they may not support the current operating system, which opens you up to a cybersecurity breach.Solution: Do a complete inventory of all your technology. Ensure they run: iOS 16.0.3 for iPhone 8 and later, Android 12 for Android Phones, iPadOS 15.7 for iPads, macOS 12.6 for Mac Computers, and Windows 10 or 11 for PCs.

    For all devices that do not support these versions, disengage them from your network today. Purchase new machines to replace them before or during the next fiscal year.

  1. Not Paying Attention to Patches.
    All operating systems require patches from time to time.Solution: When your computer tells you updates are needed, complete them within a few hours. It will require a restart. However, many patches have security updates within them.
  2. User Error.
    When users are allowed access to sensitive or confidential data, there is always a risk of exposure.Solution: Partition student, administration, and public networks. Practice whitelisting which allows only a handful of individuals into the classified information, blocking nonessential personnel from that data.
  3. Allowing Weak Passwords and not having a Change Policy.
    Passwords less than 14 characters are problematic, and not enforcing changes to the passwords can lead hackers right to your data’s door.Solution: Make strong passwords a norm, along with two-factor authentication. Provide an automated system that requires a password change every 60- to 90-days.
  4. No tools.
    It’s time to think of your school network more like a bank. These financial institutions have a vault, security guards, and cameras – different methods to keep your money safe. The same goes for cybersecurity. It would be best if you had the right tools to keep all the data out of the hands of hackers.Solution: From Mobile Devices management to cybersecurity audits and monitoring, speak to a cybersecurity expert to fully understand the best tools for your school system.
  5. Vulnerability testing is nonexistent.
    Without continuous checking, hackers will continue to try and access your data.

    Solution: Initially, you need a cybersecurity organization to analyze the vulnerabilities in your network and recommend fixes. Once those solutions are in place, it’s vital to have 24/7 monitoring of your network to ensure your data is safe.

“Educational Institutes have a larger number of people that have access to computers, the school system, and sensitive information and at the same time lack the training and safeguards many corporations have in place…this simply makes them both attractive and highly vulnerable,” shared Tim Dimoff.

Tiim's Talks, Timothy DimoffStart a Conversation with Timothy Dimoff about Cybersecurity Threats

Tim is happy to speak before your school district about cybersecurity and physical security threats! Call him today at (330) 730-3524 to schedule his presentation!