These 6 Tips Will Protect Your School From Hackers

May 9, 2022 | Blog, Schools

Many educational institutions have switched to electronic record-keeping systems in recent years, and there are good reasons for this. Paper files and records can be damaged by fire, water, dust, and pests. Moreover, they’re an inefficient and expensive way to store important information. With digitisation comes a need to protect your school from hackers. Digital records are more efficient and cost-effective as they can be accessed and referenced seamlessly and remotely but this brings about its own Cyber Security concerns.

Educational institutions rely on products like EduIs to handle school administration end-to-end. Our all-in-one solution provides an integrated platform for administrators, students and staff to manage various school processes from admission to assessment, record creation and storage. However, these digital tools are susceptible to threats and must be secured from cyber criminals. In this article, we’ll discuss these cyber threats and provide practical tips to help you protect your school from hackers. 

A Brief Introduction to Hacking

protect your school from hackers
Image via Flickr by Richard Patterson

The term “hacker” used to refer to talented computer programmers who could solve complex technical problems. Now, it describes people who break into computers without permission for malicious purposes. Hackers exploit flaws in computer systems to steal sensitive data like login credentials and classified government files. 

Hacking has evolved since the first recorded case in the 1970s. To protect your school from hackers, you should be aware of how they attack. Here’s a look at some of the different techniques used by hackers over the years. 

Phishing

The most popular hacking technique, phishing scams uses decoy emails to steal information. A hacker sends out emails that look like they’re from a legitimate source, and tries to get the reader to click on a link, which leads to a product or service that the hacker is trying to promote. The link redirects you to a site that requests personal information or requires you to download a file. These files may be malware designed to steal, duplicate, or destroy data.

Distributed Denial of Service

A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack prevents a user from accessing their computer by flooding the server with traffic so that it crashes. Unlike phishing, DOS hacks are leverage for extortion or plain old revenge. You may not have lost any data, but it will cost you time and money.

Ransomware

Ransomware is similar to a DOS attack in that they both prevent people from getting into their computers. The hacker either locks victims out of their systems or encrypts their files and demands a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. 

Trojan

Trojans are computer viruses that take control of computers. The virus appears to be a legitimate software program or application, but once installed, it can do any number of things, including executing another hack on your system. 

Brute Force Attack

With brute force attacks, hackers use various tools to forcefully access a computer. These automated tools use a series of permutations to identify usernames and passwords for online accounts, servers and protected files. 

How to Protect Your School Records from Hackers

We cannot overstate the importance of cybersecurity in schools. Around the world, more cyber criminals target schools and student information. Cybersecurity measures can help prevent internet-borne attacks, identify system vulnerabilities and protect your data. You can protect your school from hackers using the following best practices: 

1. Secure Your Devices

Create a strong password to protect school computers and servers from a cyber attack. Your password should be difficult to guess, so avoid using personal information like names, and special dates. Use a string of characters including upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols. 

Moreover, don’t use the same password on multiple platforms. It’s equally good practice to change your password regularly to hedge against brute force attacks. Enabling two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to block any attack. 

It helps to create a password policy for your institution that incorporates the guidelines mentioned above. Make sure to include this policy in your onboarding plan for staff and students, and build it into any technical solutions you use across your institution.

2. Backup Your Data

Backup files will be your salvation if you lose your data in a hack. You can back up your files manually or automatically. In fact, many software programs have automatic backup capabilities built in. There are a few ways to backup your data: using external drives, local servers stores on-site or cloud storage solutions such as DropBox, Google Drive and One Drive. EduIs integrates with Microsoft OneDrive, providing users with up to 1TB of space to store all class material securely. We recommend having both on-site and off-site backups as extra protection. Read more about EduIs e-learning integrations with microsoft.

3. Enforce Access Control 

Even within your organisation, you should limit who has access to certain types of information. Secure your server rooms and other storage locations with access control systems that only grant access to authorised staff members, usually IT officers or other similar individuals. 

Limit access to your computer networks and devices to prevent access from unrecognised connections. You can do this by assigning different user levels across the organisation for every application you use. Furthermore, you can protect email services and prevent the download (or upload) of certain attachments. 

4. Use Data Encryption Tools

Encryption can protect your school from hackers in the event of data theft. Passwords are a type of basic encryption that can stop cyber criminals from accessing the information in a stolen file. 

Encryption is equally important at a software level. Only use applications (email clients etc) that have standard two-way encryption. This will prevent outside parties from intercepting any information you transmit across your network. 

5. Eliminate Weaknesses In Your System

Weak passwords, unsecure networks and outdated operating systems can leave your systems vulnerable to a cyber attack. Establish a plan to identify and eliminate these weaknesses. Take the following steps:

  • Only purchase verified software products, and directly from the creators. Don’t
    “cracks”. Furthermore, install regular software updates.
  • Create unique administrator passwords across your institution. 
  • Change default passwords as a rule.

6. Install Preventive Tools

Software applications like antivirus and anti-malware can stop you from downloading harmful applications onto your device; and even when you do, they can clean out the device and prevent any damage. Likewise, a firewall acts as a gate between your computer and the internet, keeping intruders out. Invest in these tools and make sure they’re always up-to-date so you can keep your data safe.

As more schools leverage technology to develop efficient processes and facilitate effective learning, the need for cybersecurity in education is now more crucial than ever. With EduIs’s integrated management solution, your school records are guaranteed to be safe and protected from cyber criminals. Contact us today for a demo and we’ll get you started on the road to safe and efficient school management.