Home Featured It’s Time for Schools to Reevaluate Their Cybersecurity Strategy

It’s Time for Schools to Reevaluate Their Cybersecurity Strategy

by Jackie Davis

School districts, colleges, and universities are a popular target for cyber attackers seeking private information. Because educational institutions store large amounts of complete information – from email usernames and passwords to Social Security numbers – about users who often don’t think to check their credit scores or other vital records that would be compromised, this data is extremely valuable on the dark web. With knowledge of these attacks on the rise, it’s time for educational administrators to get serious about their institution’s cybersecurity strategy.

Augustana College Ransomware Attack

Augustana College has been targeted in a ransomware attack and confidential information was breached. The server that was impacted held Social Security numbers and birth dates of students. Although this breach happened in February, a notice was just sent out this week to those that were affected.

To help those whose identity may have been stolen, the school is offering free credit monitoring. “We have partnered with external agencies and have followed their expert guidance to investigate and resolve this issue, as well as notify those that may have been impacted,” read the college’s statement. With cases such as this, the importance of a cyber readiness plan becomes clearer.

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Breaking Data Silos

The rise of digital tools is accompanied by large amounts of data that must be stored, protected, and analyzed. As school data piles up, employees are struggling to use it in a productive, cohesive way. With Ed-Fi, a data standard that launched in July of 2011, schools can change the way they store, use, and protect data.

“It’s my holy grail that we would get a data standard and transfer method in K-12,” said Portland Public Schools CIO Don Wolff, “because we have no real solid frameworks that say ’this is what thou shalt do and this is what it should look like.’ It’s very different from the banking industry or the healthcare industry. Ed-Fi is the closest thing and we’re getting there.”

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Paterson School Data Breach

A data breach has struck Paterson Public Schools and has claimed 23,103 passwords and other computer tokens. Information stolen includes desktop logins, usernames and passwords, and laptop credentials. The email usernames and passwords for all school district employees, including the superintendent, were breached.

The school became aware of the breach early this week. “District officials are looking into the situation to verify whether there is a problem,” said Paul Brubaker, spokesman for the Paterson Public Schools. With data breaches, the breach itself is a problem, but the aftermath of hacked accounts and stolen financial information can be even worse – highlighting the importance of a stronger cybersecurity strategy.

Read more here.

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