Modern organizations run on data. It’s up to the IT Professionals in the organization to protect and secure that data.
Educational organizations need student data to operate, putting them in the crosshairs of criminals. Social security numbers, private health information (PHI), addresses, and emails are all prizes to criminals who see educators as soft targets. Considering school systems’ limited budget and resources, data security can be a challenge.
Educational Organizations and Data Security
The public entrust educators with sensitive personal information such as student data. Losing that data and breaking the trust, can undermine the good work of the educational organization.
A recent study calculated the cost of a data breach at $3.86 million. This is in addition to the hidden costs that can impact educators, including the loss of critical student records. It’s time for IT leaders in education to plan for data security.
Data Security Challenges in 2019
We’ve collected some of the top data security challenges facing educational organizations in 2019. We’re also looking at solutions, even with limited budget and resources.
For many companies, the biggest threat to data security may already be inside the organization. That won’t change in 2019. Disgruntled, careless, and untrained employees are a significant threat no matter what protection you have in place. Many data breaches aren’t caused by a criminal. Mistakes like losing a password, becoming a victim of a phishing attack, or leaving a security document in a public location can cause a breach even with security in place.
Protect yourself by making sure all employees are trained in data security protocol especially after security is updated. Create a cybersecurity strategy, and make sure it is sustainable. Monitor computer usage of any employee with access to secure files like student data and personal health information.
2. Unsecured Devices
You can have the strongest cybersecurity on site protecting student data, but the cell phone or tablet an employee brings to work can circumvent all that protection. Modern bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies many schools have adopted are a security risk, especially as employees frequently change personal devices.
Include BYOD policies in your cybersecurity plan. Review and implement a mobile device management (MDM) plan. Make sure all employees with access to critical information follow MDM policy. Standardize protections in mobile devices to ensure unsecure devices can’t access protected data.
3. Aging Infrastructure
Within most networks, there is software, hardware, and firmware vulnerable to attack. This could be a router or printer that hasn’t been updated. The hardware or device might be too old to have the latest protection. These are points that can exploited to attack and steal data.
Regularly review all the devices in your network, especially at the beginning of a new year. Focus on devices that can be used to access secure data. With the review complete, create an update and patch programs to protect all devices and software. Prioritize high-risk devices for replacement.
4. Data Security Funding
Money is tight for all educational organizations. It’s important to make the most of every dollar, especially when it comes to cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity isn’t dependent on the budget, but the readiness of the organization to prevent and minimize data breaches. Look at your current spend, and make sure you are getting the expected value, the price and performance, for the budget. Often, older systems and devices can be replaced by lower-cost, up-to-date alternatives.
Keep in mind that how you spend your budget is more important than the size of your budget.
5. Access Management
Minimize the risk of a data breach by limiting access to secure data. Often, educational organizations provide more data access than is necessary. Data hasn’t been partitioned or protected on servers. Even employees with limited need to access data might have unlimited, and unnecessary, access to protected data.
Take the time in 2019 to review access management. Make sure only the employees who need to access data can access it. Partition your data to limit exposure and risk. All data should be backed up in secure off-site servers in case of disaster.
Maximizing Data Security for Educational Organizations
Threats to data security are constantly changing. IT professionals need to stay ahead of threats. A new year is an excellent time to evaluate ongoing threats and new risks, so take the time to assess your network and data security.
Keep in mind the best solution might be an outside assessment from a reputable and experienced third party. When you work with a company experienced in managing network and data services for educational organizations, you can focus on higher-impact projects. Let your partner protect student data, providing you peace of mind and cybersecurity.
Talk to the experts in educational services at Donnellon McCarthy to see how they can deliver more value for your IT and printing budget, while protecting sensitive student data.