With schools throughout Northern Ireland returning for their new academic year (albeit with many COVID related health and safety measures in place), strong cyber-security practices and procedures have become an increasingly integral part of many educational institutions' policies to counteract the increasing range of cyber-security risks.
Both in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic and during it, the frequency and threat of phishing emails has been on the rise. As they pertain specifically to schools, these cyber-attacks may have been attempting to impersonate school payment systems, such as ParentPay, +Pay and SchoolMoney. Parents and schools alike must be aware of these cyber-criminals and their methods, which may include directing victims to fraudulent websites.
Institutions should be sure to conduct cyber-security training for all school staff and encourage them to always think twice before opening a link or downloading an attachment. Schools should also take the time to inform parents about what kinds of communication and information they can expect to receive and how it will appear.
Not all cyber-security threats are external. It is possible that a computer or other piece of equipment connected to a school’s network may already be compromised. Institutions should conduct audits of all equipment that will have access to their network. IT employees or contractors should also be tasked with checking all user accounts to make sure that they do not have unnecessary access to certain data or systems. In the event of a device or account being compromised, this type of limited access can minimise the amount of data or information available to the perpetrator.
While cloud servers allow teachers and other employees to work remotely and have access to necessary files from various locations, they also can help reduce the danger or consequences of a cyber- attack. Moving servers and file storage off-site can provide a safer environment, while also ensuring that important and sensitive data and information is regularly backed up.
Even for schools that are able to welcome back students in a traditional learning environment, it is important to be prepared in the event of a second wave of COVID-19 cases forcing additional closures.
For more information and insurance solutions related to cyber-security, contact us today.