With the heavy barrage of attacks launched online by threat operators today, cybersecurity is now a key concern for firms of all sizes, as well as national and local governments. However, in recent years, malicious actors have added the education sector to their list of potential victims.

After an onslaught of data breaches and cyberattacks on schools, colleges, universities and local education authorities (LEAs), the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released an advisory to all operating in the sector, urging them to take protective measures against this growing threat.

Let’s examine the key reasons that make cybersecurity a prime consideration for the education sector and explore existing measures that can help protect networks, devices and data.

Disrupting services

Digital transformation has effectively improved how universities and schools operate. To cope with the pandemic, an increasing number of educational institutions have adopted online services from virtual classrooms and electronic exams to faculty and parent-teacher meetings via video platforms.

While these innovations can help those in the education sector to work effectively, they must be safeguarded against attack. Threat operators thrive by creating disruption. Their favoured targets are those who rely heavily on technology for key services, making the education sector an ideal victim. With their opportunistic ways, threat actors make the most of the chaos they cause and apply leverage to their targets by holding these essential services for ransom. After locking schools out of their systems and data, ransomware gangs use extortion tactics to demand payments.

Storing personal information

Institutions in the educational industry store and handle a wide range of data that includes personally identifiable information (PII). Files are kept on students and staff containing PII and in some cases financial details of parents paying fees. Email accounts and websites used by schools and colleges are also packed full of confidential correspondences and private data bases.

UK data regulators like the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have set specific guidelines on how PII must be protected. As a result, every organisation and institution operating in the education sector must take adequate measures to protect the data they store and share. Whether it is due to a clerical error or a concerted attack, if PII is exposed, it puts data subjects at risk and can carry heavy penalties.

Solutions for cybersecurity for the education industry

Whether you are in charge of information security for a school, college, university, LEA or education service provider, at Galaxkey, we can help. With experience deploying cybersecurity solutions in educational applications, we have designed a secure workspace with cutting-edge tools.

To keep colleges and schools compliant, our system includes formidable three-layer encryption that renders data inaccessible to unauthorised individuals. It can be applied to data files of all sizes along with email communications and their attachments. Whether PII is being stored on school servers or sent via email, it will remain secure.

If you are currently looking to enhance your current system with state-of-the-art protection, get in touch today for a free 14-day trial.