Minimising the risk of school cyber attacks

Schools need to ensure they have measures in place to reduce the risk of cyber attacks or ‘pedagogical phishing’?

While education technology has many benefits, as our classrooms become more high-tech, schools need to ensure they have measures in place to reduce the risk of cyber attacks or ‘pedagogical phishing’.

 With Wi-Fi being a staple piece tech in modern classrooms linking technology via the cloud and connecting front-of-class displays, tablets etc. it does mean that our schools run the risk of being targeted. Through hacking, thieves can infect devices with viruses and malware or even go so far as to try to get their hands on student data and school financial records; so ensuring that you have some secure measures in place should be a priority when using technology.

  So, how can you minimise the risk of cyber attacks?

  1.    Put a cyber security leadership team in place who is responsible for security practices at your school. Ensure that they have security policies in place which everyone an adhere to, discuss these regularly with other stakeholders such as governors and parents, so that everybody knows there are measures in place, and what to do in the event of something serious happening.

  2.    At a very bottom level, invest in antivirus software, but make sure that it will protect all of your operating systems. Importantly, keep the software updated with the latest version. While it can seem like an arduous task at times, having the latest software irons out any bugs or niggles that can leave a network vulnerable. Set up automatic updates to help you stay on top of it.

  3.    Back it up! Make sure you have procedures in place to back up all of your data and files. Work with your School IT or Network Manager to ensure that the back-up storage is sufficient and has enough room for growth.

  4.    Don’t just rely on technology to keep you safe, have a system in place that allows teachers and students to flag any suspicious emails or activity on their online accounts. Teach students, teachers and professional staff about the risks of opening emails (and attachments) from unknown sources across the school network, and what to do if they find anything untoward.

  5.    Use password protection – for everything, as standard, this will strengthen the network. Encourage staff and students to be creative with their passwords, and to avoid the obvious (Password123). Using symbols, characters or capital letters can reduce the chance of it being guessed. It’s also beneficial to change passwords on a regular basis, we would recommend every 30 days as standard.

While the chance of stopping cyber-attacks altogether is unlikely, through careful planning and risk management you can minimise the chances of it happening or becoming a major incident for your school. 

Blog written by Janice Prandstatter Teaching and Learning Consultant at Promethean

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