Story by Ellyce Hill, Strategic Communications Intern, Summer 2023
Cybersecurity in K-12 Schools
While the internet has become an instrumental part of education today, cybersecurity threats in schools have only continued to grow. These threats can have a negative impact on students’ education, safety, and mental health. Computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data should stay cyber-secure to ensure a safe learning environment.
Types of School Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks are any offensive maneuver that targets information systems, networks, infrastructures, personal computer devices, or smartphones. Mitigating cybersecurity issues can help protect students’ personal data, prevent financial loss, and ensure schoolwide security. School cyberattacks can include:
- Social Engineering – Phishing, Smishing, Vishing and Tailgating
- Brute force or credential stuffing password attacks
Below are some cybersecurity resources that can help your school have a successful school year.
Teach Students the Basics of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is becoming an integral part of students’ lives and education. Teaching students basic cybersecurity tips can help prevent cyberbullying and phishing attacks.
Review the Latest Cybersecurity Report for K-12 Organizations
The United States Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently released a report gauging the safety of public schools. This resource can help broaden knowledge on modern-day cyber issues in K-12 schools.
Multi-factor authentication or MFA is a requirement to provide multiple forms of identification when accessing personal or private information. Think of a pin for a credit card. MFAs minimize the possibility of unauthorized access and are often more effective than passwords.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
VPNs allow teachers, students, and staff the ability to remotely connect to their school’s network through a secure tunnel that makes it harder for hackers to gain sensitive information. This can deter the negative impacts of security breaches on public Wi-Fi by preventing man-in-the middle attacks or eavesdropping on communications.
Software Updates and Endpoint Security Software
Keep software updated and install advanced endpoint security software. Software updates help prevent security issues while endpoint security software detects, prevents, and monitors suspicious or malicious activity on a system.
Review Ransomware Reference Materials
The United States Department of Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency created a website titled “Stop Ransomware”. This website includes webinars and worksheets that can help enhance cybersecurity techniques for inside and outside the classroom.
The mission of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center is to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of U.S. state, local, tribal, and territorial government organizations through coordination, collaboration, cooperation and increased communication.
MS-ISAC offers members incident response and remediation support through a team of security experts. They also develop tactical, strategic, and operational intelligence and advisories that offer actionable information for improving cyber maturity.
Benefits of joining MS-ISAC include:
- 24/7 Security Operations Center
- Incident response and digital forensics services
- Monitoring public IP ranges and domains for possible compromises
- Access to the Malicious Code Analysis Platform (MCAP)
- Weekly top-malicious domains and IPs report
- Ransomware blocking with Malicious Domain Blocking and Reporting (MDBR)
- Access to cybersecurity table-top exercises
- CIS SecureSuite Membership including access to CIS Benchmarks, CIS-CAT Pro, CIS WorkBench, remediation content, and more
As cyberthreats continue to evolve, we’ve learned the best defense is to prevent problems before they start. A cyber-secure school will foster a healthy environment for students to participate and learn. Using these resources will help make a bright and safe future for students across Oklahoma.
Learn more about cyber-safety at staysafeonline.org.