Cybersecurity in schools
This year has added many stressors to school administrators’ already-full plates—health risks to students and staff, the challenges of educating quarantined students and the need to limit visitors in the school buildings. There’s another threat to your school, however, that you should make sure you don’t overlook: cybersecurity. Whether students and staff use shared computers or their own devices, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect them. Here, Church Mutual offers six nuggets of advice from our cybersecurity experts:
- Protect your public Wi-Fi network with a password. While it may be tempting to open your Wi-Fi network to anyone in your building who needs to go online, that’s asking for trouble. Cyber criminals can easily access networks that aren’t protected by passwords, and when they do, they can steal information, alter records and plant viruses.
- Back up your data. Not only can thieves steal information, but they can also wreak havoc with your data—just because they can. Ransomware infections will destroy a system, which is why it is vital that you schedule regular back-ups.
- Disable all cookies on shared computers. No one who is using a shared computer should be able to access passwords or other confidential information left by a previous user. Schools, in particular, must be extra wary of cookies because they can lead children to inappropriate websites.
- Encourage all users to log out of both shared computers and personal devices. Students and other staff could inadvertently access information they shouldn’t be seeing if the user before them is still logged in. Even with personal devices, users could be leaving themselves vulnerable to passersby who could access sensitive information with the click of a mouse.
- Educate all staff and students on how to identify phishing scams. They should never click random outgoing links in emails they receive. Some of these links can look very legitimate, even looking like Google Docs links. But everyone who uses your network should only open links from email addresses they recognize.
- Restrict certain system privileges to just a few users. This can be especially useful with privileges related to installing software on computers. If only a handful of users can install software (such as system administrators), you are far less likely to run the risk of cybercriminals installing potentially harmful software.
- Install anti-virus software and spyware filters and firewall and content blockers. Without these vital additions, you’re leaving yourself wide open to cybercrime.
While every organization can fall prey to cybercriminals, schools are arguably among the most vulnerable. School computer systems can house incredibly sensitive information that, if leaked, could lead to dire consequences. When you take the right precautions, you lower your risk for that type of problem.
The best first step, of course, is making sure you have the right insurance. Learn more about what Church Mutual offers for cybersecurity at churchmutual.com.