Skip to content

Phishing and Hacking: How Secure Is Your School’s Data?

by SUMMIT on November 10th, 2015

Phishing and Hacking- How Secure Is Your School’s Data?

As technology becomes a bigger part of everyday life, school systems are no more protected from online threats than other organizations. Today, teachers, administrators, and students all use connected devices that could lead to the dissemination of private information.

For example, in 2014, a Utah school employee clicked on a phishing email link that put the personal information of 500 employees at risk. Clicking on phishing links in emails is one of the most common and preventable mistakes users make online. That momentary flub led to months of face-to-face meetings and an improved data security policy, but many other schools are still at risk.

What Is Currently Being Done to Protect School Data?

Just like any business operation, if a school district uses a connected device for online activities, individuals could be opening the door to an attack. In some cases, inadequate security and improvised technology solutions present a problem even in the absence of high-risk online activities. All educational facilities—from small pre-schools to large universities—are vulnerable to threats, and many are far behind the curve by not installing and maintaining sufficient security solutions.

Now, as many as 47 states have passed data-breach and protection legislation to keep education data secure. Many also have a notification system in place in the event of a breach. However, many schools in these states are still working to bring their security systems up-to-date. Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) is a guide that the Consortium for School Networking created to help school systems. The advice could help numerous school systems understand and prepare for online hacking and phishing threats.

Beefing up existing security, creating breach preparedness protocols, and training online users about safe internet activities are a few ways schools can, and have, made their networks more secure for employees and students. Additional security measures, like wording vendor contracts appropriately and creating cloud computing policies, are also vital security measures that schools need to be aware and on top of. Teachers and students need access to the internet to drive classroom activities, distance learning, and help students learn about technology, and maintaining strong security practices is one way to safely facilitate the learning process.

What Happens When School Data Is Hacked and What to Do about It

Failing to take action to safeguard information can lead to numerous negative outcomes. Cybercriminals aren’t only interested in finding financial information. They may also access emergency information for a school, or personal student information including attendance, addresses, and social security numbers. Some hackers post private information online for other criminals to take advantage of while others may use it for personal, more sinister deeds.

If you see personal information online or are concerned about a link you may have clicked on, be proactive. Tell an administrator about the activity so that the school system can begin the appropriate response process.

While many school systems may never experience malicious online threats, some will and the result can destroy lives, or put your student body at risk. Ask questions about internet security in your school system and encourage a proactive policy to address these pressing concerns. Take advantage of email preview screens, and never click on something if you are unsure of it. With training and the appropriate security measures, school systems can embrace the technology driven future without overly-restricted internet access, or fear of security breaches.
Photo Credit: Dastryh1 via Compfight cc

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.