Protecting systems and private data is a necessity for every organisation, and those operating in the education sector are no exception. The sensitive nature of records held by educational facilities can makes schools an ideal target for malicious actors.

Perhaps capitalising on the move to more home-based virtual learning, last year saw a rise in attacks using ransomware aimed at universities here in the UK, prompting the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to advise the education sector to bolster its defences against further assaults.

In the following sections, we’ll explore some of the reasons why cybersecurity is such a crucial issue for schools and colleges across the country.

Why is the data held by schools a potential risk?

Every school system around the world retains a wealth of personally identifiable information (PII) on both the students taught there and the faculty members who teach classes and courses. This data will typically include medical histories, phone numbers, home and email addresses, and even banking details.

Should the worst-case scenario come to pass and a virus or malicious actor penetrates the school’s systems, all the sensitive data records stored within them will be at serious risk. Data could be erased, altered, or encrypted, locking staff members out of key information. Files can also be stolen in attacks, held for ransom, or sold on to other cybercriminals for use in their malicious campaigns.

Not all data is personally identifiable, but it may be essential nonetheless for schools to function effectively, like important email communications or exam result reports. All data must be systematically backed up to ensure no data loss ever takes place and files can be restored quickly, allowing educational institutions to keep operating without interruption.

Does data security require limiting students’ online access?

Creating a blacklist of unsafe websites is a smart move for those in charge of school information security. Students can be at risk from abuse, bullying and exploitation via malicious sites aimed against them, while other unsafe sites may attempt to infect a school’s infrastructure. Either way, blocking access to such harmful sites is always a prudent protocol whenever they are identified or flagged by the NCSC.

What’s the best solution for stepping up school cybersecurity?

Employing a comprehensive and multi-layered approach to cybersecurity is essential for schools and colleges. Anti-virus and anti-malware apps should always be kept current and a dedicated firewall put firmly in place. Encryption should be used for all data records and email communications, with clean backups kept at the ready in case of emergencies.

To make sure private data is never successfully accessed by individuals without appropriate authorisation, schools, colleges, and universities all have a duty to secure student, parent, and faculty members’ communications. While this may seem like a daunting task, here at Galaxkey, we can help.

With in-depth knowledge gained assisting renowned educational institutions like University College London, our team understands the grave importance of ensuring sensitive information stays protected and in the hands of the educational facilities themselves. Contact us today to experience an online demonstration of our most secure platform.