Top 5 Cybersecurity Tips for Teachers

The pandemic may have taken everyone off guard. We are still adjusting to new teaching and learning methods, but replacing a physical learning environment with a virtual one is a practice that will shortly become far more frequent. Therefore, securing online identity has never been more critical. 

3 SECURITY ISSUES FACING TEACHERS

Among the numerous cyber threats, some have a greater chance of hitting the education sector. Here are a few of them every educator should be aware of:

Data breaches

The school system is a gold mine of personal information that is rarely well protected. A few months ago, the American educational system was struck by a massive cyberattack, resulting in thousands of pieces of data being compromised.

Moreover, the attackers sent threatening emails and required a ransom to keep stolen data out of the public’s eyes. This kind of enterprise is known as ransomware – an attack where criminals request money in exchange for a key to unlock encrypted data or not to publicize personal information.

Also, school WiFi networks connect to many devices, and consequently, their databases store an enormous amount of data. Data leakage could pose a serious threat to students, their families, and the education system as a whole.

Phishing

According to statistics, in 2019, 30 percent of users in the education system fell victim to phishing attacks. When it comes to phishing in the education sector, hackers usually send fraudulent emails in which they pose as a reliable source – professor, dean, or other authority – to steal valuable personal information or access reputable research data that most universities store on their servers. 

DDoS attacks

During the pandemic, distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks paralyzed education systems across the globe. It is a meticulously well-designed strike where a series of computers attack a network server to overwhelm its capacity with multiple requests, which eventually causes the server to crash. These attacks caused the online education systems across universities and schools to collapse, resulting in network downtime and pausing classes.

TOP 5 WAYS TO PROTECT CYBERSECURITY

Use school-provided devices

In ideal circumstances, schools should provide their students and teachers with necessary devices, but a significant number of schools do not have sufficient funds. On the other hand, a considerable number of those who receive IT equipment from their educational institutions tend to use those devices for their personal needs. To bypass the potential threats, use school-provided devices whenever you can, and if for any reason you are not able to, consult with the IT department to ensure the maximal protection of your device and sensitive data in transfer.

Use a VPN

The data breach does not affect only the educational system – it could have an impact on entire families – cybercriminals can quickly obtain personal information stored on personal devices that students use for educational purposes and use it for various fraudulent activities.  

If you want to be sure that the communication with your students has been protected, use a VPN for security. A VPN encrypts the data in traffic, making sure that all exchanged information stays private. 

Educate the staff and the students

Creating a proper cybersecurity strategy starts with security awareness training for students and the staff. It is crucial to educate all participants about common threats and how they can protect their personal information and sensitive data that belongs to the educational institution they are connected to. 

Use a password manager

Most schools have password security policies, but they are rarely adequately enforced. Students choose weak passwords, and they are usually not aware of the possible risks of losing or sharing their credentials. Password managers can be a great solution since they encrypt and store passwords, and users need only one master password to enter all of their accounts.

Embrace a multi-factor authentication

Considering that 80 percent of all data breaches can be traced to poor password management, using additional safety mechanisms can considerably improve your cyber resilience. MFA or multi-factor authentication uses other security steps along with a standard password to strengthen your security. It includes utilizing some device like a USB key or token and some biometric factor like fingerprint or a face scan. MFA implies that the user has to enter all required authentication factors to access the account. 

The education system involves an immense amount of sensitive data across various devices, which most often have different protection strategies. Educating students and teachers about good cyber hygiene and possible threats is a priority in ensuring a safe learning environment. Also, staying skeptical and taking everything with a grain of salt is another excellent lesson every student should have in mind to avoid cyber threats hidden in plain sight. 

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