Cybersecurity in Schools

Discover actionable steps to protect your school’s digital environment.

Cybersecurity is like a strong shield that protects us from bad people who try to harm our digital world. It’s not just something we need in our personal lives; it’s also essential in places of learning, like schools. 

We’ll explain why keeping schools safe from online dangers is crucial and how we can do that. So, let’s get started on this journey to learn about cybersecurity in schools.

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Here's our cybersecurity checklist

What is cybersecurity in schools?

Cybersecurity in schools is all about making sure that the computers, software, and information in the school are safe from online problems. These problems can be things like harmful software, fake emails, people who try to break in (hackers), or stealing information.

It’s also about teaching students and staff how to be smart and safe when using the internet, and what to do if something goes wrong.

Why cybersecurity in schools is important?

Cybersecurity is essential for a lot of reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Protecting your privacy: Cybersecurity makes sure that the private information of students and staff stays safe. Schools gather and keep sensitive information like personal details, school records, health records, and money-related data. If the wrong hands obtain this information, it can cause problems such as identity theft, cheating, or blackmail.

  • Keeping educational tools safe: Schools use various online tools and websites to help students learn, take tests, and work together. Cybersecurity helps to make sure that these tools stay working correctly and aren’t messed up by cyberattacks. If these tools get attacked, it can mess up the quality of education.

  • Protecting reputation and trust: Schools should be safe places for students and staff to learn and work. Suppose schools don’t protect themselves from cyber problems. In that case, they can lose the trust and respect of those who matter to them. This includes their parents, partners, regulators, and school donors.

  • Cybersecurity culture: Cybersecurity isn’t about computers; it’s also about how everyone in the school thinks about it. Schools should create a culture where everyone cares about protecting data and computers. When everyone knows how to help keep things safe, it makes the school a better and safer place to learn and work.

How cyberattacks can impact schools’ environment?

In today’s world, technology is changing very quickly. Computers and the internet are a big part of our daily lives. It’s crucial for us to understand why it’s so important to stay safe when we use the internet. This is especially true for schools because they use technology a lot in teaching, talking to others, and managing things.

For example, schools use laptops, tablets, and smart boards to do many things like looking at online materials, making digital stuff, and working together. They also use special systems and email to keep track of information and talk to people. However, using these technologies also means that schools can have problems from people who want to harm them online.

Here are some of the problems schools need to watch out for:

  • Data breaches: Bad people can sometimes get into the school’s computer systems and steal important information like student records, grades, personal information, and money stuff. This can be really bad because it affects the privacy and safety of students, staff, and parents. It can also lead to problems with the law, harm the school’s reputation, and cost a lot of money.
  • Ransomware: Sometimes, hackers can lock up the school’s data or computer systems and ask for money to unlock them. This can make it hard for the school to work normally, causing delays and problems in learning. Schools might have to pay a lot of money or lose their data forever.
  • Phishing: Hackers can send fake emails or messages that look like they are from the school’s important people, like educators or parents. These messages can trick people into clicking on bad links or giving away personal or money information. This can lead to getting computer viruses, having your identity stolen, or falling for scams.
  • Denial of service: Some hackers can send so much internet traffic to a school’s systems that they slow down or stop working. This means the school can’t use online services or resources, which affects how well students can learn and how the school can communicate.

These are just some of the ways schools can have problems because of cyberattacks. The results of these attacks can be terrible and last for a long time, hurting the school and the people who rely on it. That’s why it’s super important for schools to take cybersecurity seriously and have plans to stop and deal with cyberattacks.

How to improve cybersecurity in school?

Here are some steps that schools can take to make their online safety better:

  • Teach everyone about online safety: Schools should regularly teach students, educators, and parents about how to stay safe online. This means showing them how to protect themselves and their devices from online attacks. They should also learn how to notice and tell someone if something seems suspicious.

  • Keep devices and software up-to-date: Schools need to make sure that all their devices and computer programs are kept up-to-date. This is important because updates fix any problems or mistakes that hackers might use to attack. Schools should also use special software (antivirus) and tools (firewalls) to look for and stop any bad files or visitors.

  • Protect data with codes and backups: Schools should use secret codes (encryption) to make sure that nobody can read their important information unless they have permission. They should also copy their information to a safe place like an external hard drive or an online storage service. This way, if something bad happens like a ransomware attack or a computer problem, they can still get their information back.

  • Use strong passwords and extra security: Schools should make sure that their passwords are not easy to guess. They should also use extra security like needing a special code or fingerprint to get into their accounts or devices. This makes it harder for hackers to get in, even if they know the password.

  • Have clear rules and plans: Schools should make clear rules and plans for online safety. Everyone should know what to do if there’s a problem. Schools should also have plans for how to get things back to normal after an online attack.

Is your school prepared for a cyber emergency?

Remember, online safety is not just a one-time thing; it’s something that needs to be checked and improved all the time. Schools should always look for signs that something is wrong with their computer systems. They should update their safety rules and plans when necessary to stay protected from the newest tricks that hackers might try.

Spread the word! Share this EDU Blog with your colleagues, educators, and school administrators to raise awareness about cybersecurity in schools.

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