How to Improve Cybersecurity Awareness in Educational Institutions

It’s a misconception that cybercriminals only attack large corporations like Target and Equifax. The education industry, including universities, colleges and public school districts, should be just as prepared to prevent a cyberattack. Here are 4 ways that you can improve cybersecurity awareness in the education sector.

cybersecurity awareness in education

1. Recognize that Educational Institutions are a Target

First, it is important to understand that the education industry is a target for cyberattacks. All schools maintain personal and financial information about their students, employees and staff members. This includes personally identifiable information (PII) including; birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, bank account information, and credit card data. Hackers know that they can obtain large amounts of valuable confidential information and that schools may not have the latest cybersecurity best practices in place. Hackers know that educational organizations are prime targets and frequently do not have budgets for cybersecurity and cybersecurity awareness.

2. Incorporate Cybersecurity Awareness Training into Curriculum

Employees, faculty and students can create cybersecurity risks without knowing it. Many schools allow students access to computers, issue passwords and login credentials, and other resources. If students are not knowledgeable on ways to limit cybersecurity risks, it’s possible  the whole organization could end up suffering a breach. Some savvy schools have incorporated cybersecurity training into their curriculum. For younger students, this could mean introducing them to the concept of cybersecurity. For college aged students, it might mean that they must complete a formal cybersecurity awareness program online as part of their new student orientation process.

3. Educate Teachers, Employees and Administrators About Social Engineering Attacks

Teachers, employees and administrators are particularly vulnerable to social engineering attacks. Therefore, it is important to train staff how to recognize an attack and what to do if they suspect one. Innocent parents and students email staff and administrators frequently request information. Hackers often manipulate this information to infiltrate the network. All employees and students need to know how to authenticate these requests and the proper security protocols.

4. Offer Incentives for Those Who Identify Vulnerabilities

Finally, it is not enough for teachers, administrators, and students to be aware of cybersecurity threats, they need to know what to do if they encounter them. Sometimes people will fail to report the threat or discovered vulnerability to the appropriate person. By implementing incentives for anyone that identifies a security risk, you will reduce the risk and can also make cybersecurity part of the day to day culture of the organization. Providing employees, administrators and students with cybersecurity awareness training will help to empower them with the tools needed to identify security risk.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to ensure that your school or organization is trained on the latest cybersecurity prevention techniques, contact CIFSA today at (561) 325-6050 to learn how we can help.

Founded by former Secret Service Agent and Deputy Director of the National Cybersecurity Division of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Levin, The Center for Information Security Awareness(CFISA) is designed to help businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions empower their employees to fight cybercrimes. We provide personalized, engaging, compliant, and affordable PCI-DSS security awareness training, HIPAA training, InfraGard Awareness Training, and Security Awareness Training.

Remember, no matter how big or small your company is, and how well the back doors to your system are barricaded, one employee click on the wrong link, attachment, or website could open the front door. CIFSA trains your employees on the best practices to avoid potentially catastrophic data breaches.