Cybersecurity Quick Tips for Schools to Avoid Ransomware & Other Threats

Published on
February 4, 2023
Hailey Carlson

Cybersecurity Quick Tips for Schools to Avoid Ransomware & Other Threats

Cyber attacks affect all industries without discrimination – one of the sectors most affected by ransomware in 2022 was education. This maliciousness appears to be continuing on into 2023 as there has been an attack on schools in a Massachusetts town earlier this week. Four schools which provide education for 1,700 students in Nantucket were rocked by a ransomware attack. The attack resulted in the security systems for the Nantucket Public School System being shut down and students and teachers alike were left unable to use their devices tied to any school activities.The attack was announced to parents via an email from the superintendent of the school district on Tuesday of this week classes were dismissed early on this day as well. 

Around the same time as this attack, the Tucson Unified School District also suffered a ransomware attack impacting their systems. While this attack is not believed to have impacted any of the school system’s confidential, personal, employee, or student data, it does highlight the fact that this type of attack is a highly present issue for our educators today. 

Ransomware and other types of cybersecurity attacks are not only common, but also quite costly - both in money and in time spent trying to recover from the attack. These are two things that most schools do not have enough of to spare, so it is obvious that trying to avoid an attack which negatively impacts either of these areas should be a priority. Below are some quick tips to follow in order to protect your school regardless of whether you are an administrator, teacher, faculty, student, or parent:

  • Utilize strong, unique passwords – the most basic building block of strong cybersecurity is login security. Protect your accounts by using a different password for each site and ensure it is strong by making it hard to guess using uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use multi-factor authentication – This requires a typical login and password as well as something like a one-time code being sent to a linked email address or phone number. This extra step allows for increased account security to ensure that no one is able to gain access to the account even if they somehow obtained the password. It creates an extra hurdle for security purposes, further protecting your data.
  • Do not fall for phishing scams – Phishing scams are those pesky emails that come from someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal your precious data or gain access to the main network of the school. Be sure to educate yourself and your peers on what to look for in a phishing scam and make others aware of any known phishing campaigns out there.
  • Use a firewall — Cyber attacks are so costly, but most businesses, especially schools, do not have the budget or people to adequately address the risks. A firewall can be a cost effective option to help filter in the good traffic but block the bad traffic of hackers and malicious actors.

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