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Ensuring School Security with Physical and Cyber Plans

by Jackie Davis
school safety

School safety is top of mind for parents, administrators, and teachers alike, but what can you do when the aggressor is invisible? Hackers are increasingly targeting schools to gain information on student files including addresses and social security numbers. In today’s world of digital access in the classroom, it’s important for schools to not only have a strong physical security plan but a cybersecurity plan as well.

Are People the Problem with Cybersecurity?

While bad actors certainly pose a threat to the security of educational institutions, the majority of threats are often coming from within. Unsuspecting employees and students can accidentally open a network up to major security risks putting student data, school information, and confidential documents at risk.

“It has become much more evident that [cybersecurity] is something that they have to move forward on,” said Amelia Vance, director of education privacy for the Future of Privacy Forum. Schools are taking notice, the University of Montana, for example, completely overhauled its research network in 218 to increase security across campus.

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School Safety Grants  

The Community Oriented Policing Service Office (COPS) authority is providing awards to help improve security and safety at schools. The School Violence Prevention Program allows for grants to be used on evidence-based safety programs and has two major changes from the previous year. “Last year’s grant proposals, like most first-year programs, were very much a shot in the dark,” said Elizabeth Evans, Senior Grants Development Consultant for Education at the Grants Office, LLC. “For 2019, however, the grant solicitation is more focused and better organized.”

“Last year’s grants tended to be either written by law enforcement or schools with little more than a signature from the other party, resulting in requests that weren’t meeting the needs of either law enforcement or schools,” she said.

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Untrained Staff Pose Security Threat

Students and staff inadvertently sharing information or clicking on links expose districts to the greatest risk, said Melissa Tebbenkamp, Raytown Quality Schools Director of Institutional Technology. To avoid this issue, teachers, facility, and students should be trained to avoid malicious links and files that can steal information like addresses, social security numbers, and student files.

School records are becoming of particular interest to hackers who can sell the files for $250 to $350 on the black market.

Read more here.

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