Educational institutions are particularly vulnerable to hacking — especially as student records, homework assignments, schedules, vacation information, guidance counselor recommendations, and a host of additional documents are increasingly stored on the cloud

In 2018, there were an unnerving 122 publicly reported instances of school data breaches. Worse, many of these resulted in the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars, the theft of sensitive information, and the alteration of private student records. In October 2018, the San Diego school district suffered a breach that lead to the personal information of more than 500,000 students and staff being compromised. That same month, Cape Cod Community College was the victim of a breach that led the educational institution to lose at least $800,000 from its accounts.

Phishing attacks continue to serve as the primary modes of data breaches among small to mid-market businesses and schools. Phishing commonly involves presenting a user with an email or a link that looks authentic but instead serves as the gateway for viruses that can drain sensitive information from computers. Phishing exploits human vulnerabilities, persuading otherwise trustworthy employees to click on suspicious-looking links from friends and colleagues.

School systems are focusing on new cybersecurity training to prevent data breaches. One recommendation is not clicking on links or emails that appear to be unreliable. Additionally, two-factor authentication is becoming the standard for educational institutions. This involves entering a login credential you have (like a password) and a login credential you receive (typically via a text message code) for verification purposes. The promise of two-factor authentication lies in the fact that the process is personalized to each individual, thereby eliminating access to unauthorized users or online bots.

As back-to-school season kicks into high gear, the very real possibility of data breaches at schools and other educational institutions remains high. K-12 administrative officials already have a lot on their plates, so it makes sense to partner with local IT providers who can prevent data breaches, proactively monitor systems, and institute a system of safe practices for the entire school system to follow.

Contact CMIT Solutions to learn more about keeping school computers safe from data breaches.