The education sector is a top target for cyber crime, especially because of the sensitive and important data they store and process. Managing a modern-day IT network for a school, college or university would test even the most seasoned IT professional.
The state of cyber-security in education is unsteady. A recent 'ethical hacking' study of over 50 UK universities found that 100% were successfully breached, some within just 1 hour!
Schools and universities must take steps to evaluate and update their IT networks in order to maintain compliance and protect their staff and students.
Thankfully, SysGroup's partnership with WatchGuard makes it possible for educational institutions to fit exceptional cyber-security into their tight budgets with ease.
1) Maintaining Compliance & Accreditation
Statutory guidance like the government's KCSiE (Keeping Children Safe in Education) guidelines are designed to safeguard impressionable children under the age of 18. Core to the KCSiE regulation is the requirement for schools and colleges to do all they reasonably can to limit a child’s exposure to risks from the school or college’s IT system.
2) Securing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Schools and colleges that implement BYOD programs enjoy major cost savings, not least of which is negating the need to purchase hundreds of laptops and the various maintenance and services that come with them.
But there are many security and privacy concerns with students having uninterrupted access to their devices – after all, BYOD has coined a copycat term: Bring Your Own Risk. Personal devices are much more prone to malware and access sites that don’t necessarily provide the same level of security.
3) Funding for Cyber-Security
Today, schools and colleges can’t afford NOT to invest in network security. As budgets remain tight, information security provisions are often limited, making schools an easy target. Cyber criminals are well aware that network defences in education are often poor and ransoms are more likely to be paid; after all – schools cannot function without access to their data.
The implications of such attacks can be considerable, resulting in major financial losses, stolen data, hardware rendered useless, failed compliancy and collapsing Ofsted ratings.
4) Keeping Pace With Evolving Resources
New educational technology is emerging every day, enabling more effective teaching methods and engaged students. In particular, the last few years have seen significant strides in STEM learning – from the Cyber Security Challenge UK to the launch of new advanced courses and online resources like Minecraft: Education Edition.
Though certainly exciting and helping to engage today’s generation of pupils, educational technology’s ever-expanding reach introduces significant challenges, not least around network overload and user management.
5) Malware Attacks Over Encrypted Traffic
More and more of the traffic on the Internet is being encrypted. In fact, it’s expected that at some point soon 100% of traffic will be encrypted. If you are not inspecting SSL traffic, you have a serious security gap just waiting to be attacked.
It’s a balancing act. For colleges and universities in particular there are legitimate privacy concerns when it comes to inspecting and decrypting the secure traffic of students. You want to have visibility into the traffic to ensure that they aren’t inviting hackers into your network, but you have limitations on your ability to scan them.