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Securing our Schools with the Business Transformation Center

June 08, 2021

Securing our Schools with the Business Transformation Center
 
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Besides the more than 80% of the US workforce that went remote last March, there’s been another demographic that has had to fully embrace remote operation, whether they wanted to or not.

Our schools.

But this migration to remote learning, specifically for the K–12 institutions across the country, have led to an increased concern of cyber attacks. Let’s face it, the K–12 schools typically don’t have the most robust cybersecurity plan in place.

On this episode of B2B Tech Talk, Travis King sits down with Andrew Schmidt, a Senior Business Transformation Engineer at Ingram Micro, for a discussion all about securing our school, and keeping them safe from cyber attacks.

 

Challenges Facing our Schools

As with everything else, COVID has exposed a lot of blind spots for all of us, and the  K–12 landscape is no exception.

But what are the challenges facing our schools? For a lot of the K–12 institutions, their cybersecurity has come under a microscope as an entire generation of students have had to move to remote learning.

At the top of the list of concerns when it comes to cybersecurity is ransomware. What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a particular type of malicious software or malware. It’s software that is introduced into a network, and once it’s in, it goes to work encrypting the data contained on that network. Think of it like locking the door from the inside so that nobody can get in.

Once the data is encrypted, the malicious actor demands a “ransom” to unlock the data. And the reason that ransomware can be so successful for K–12 institutions is that unfortunately, they usually pay those ransoms.

In fact, for a lot of school districts, there is often a line item in the budget for paying ransomware. Why?

Because when you’re faced with budgetary limitations, as school districts often are, and the cost to implement a robust cybersecurity plan is more than the projected cost of a ransomware attack, you choose the lesser of two evils.

 

Keeping Student Data Safe

Imagine a bike lock.

The best bike lock on earth won’t stop a thief who is determined to get a bike. But if your bike lock is better than the lock on the bike next to yours, odds are your bike may be safe.

How do you ensure that your “lock” is better?

1. Protect your ingress points

This includes things like email scanning, limiting access to malicious websites, and setting up filters to monitor incoming and outgoing web traffic.

2. Backup your data

If you have a master “golden” copy of your data, then a ransomware attack is useless for the attacker because you can just regress to your master backup.

3. Protect your endpoints

Simple things like antivirus software, device management, and endpoint protection software on all your devices go a long way.

4. Train your users
The sad truth is that your cybersecurity is only as strong as your weakest link, and 99% of the time the weakest link is a human, making unintentional mistakes because they haven’t been trained properly.

Keeping our schools safe is no easy task, but one that is as important as anything else that we do.