The global health crisis has catapulted the entire world into a new version of normal. For those in education – teachers, students, and administrators – the focus is on how to securely and safely provide remote learning experiences to the millions of students in the United States.
As teachers adjust lesson plans, students adjust learning methods, and administrators map out what the future will look like, IT teams in education are working hard to ensure that everyone can securely access the distance learning tools required for the new “classrooms in the cloud.”
As learning institutions adopt remote learning tools, leaders are beginning to inspect the applications and systems used to execute remote learning more closely. Not only should the tools be under scrutiny, but IT teams should be ready to handle the new behavioral patterns of the market in the move to the cloud. For example, the need to defend against cybercriminals that see vulnerabilities as new opportunities, as evidenced by a 148% spike in ransomware attacks.
For the IT professionals responding to this unprecedented event, there are several ways they can prepare for increased cybersecurity risks. Here are eight things IT teams can do when it comes to connectivity, security and privacy.
Only Use Secure WiFi Networks
Every single IT team in education should explain to their school district staff and employees the importance of securely connecting to a private home WiFi network and not a public WiFi hotspot. Using an unsecured hotspot significantly reduces privacy, and opens you up to potential hackers.
Set-Up a VPN
With a small investment, school districts can help their teachers set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which allows them to safely send and receive information on a public server. This can help secure employees’ personal devices. A VPN can also encrypt the data being sent back to district offices, as well as scan for malicious software and ransomware. Setting up a VPN for your staff will help secure information and access to IT tools from cybercriminals.
Create Stronger Passwords
As school staff settles into remote teaching, now is the perfect time to remind them to update their passwords beyond “123456.” Remind them that easily hackable passwords make them easy targets for hackers scanning home WiFi networks. IT teams should have each employee implement high-security protection on their personal devices and desktop home computers.
Create & Share “Best Practices”
As the education sector enters the cybernated world, IT teams can help those unfamiliar with the tools and applications used to facilitate remote learning by establishing best practices, and sharing them with everyone. Teachers and faculty may not be as familiar with security best practices when it comes to digital communication. Both Microsoft and Google have released a resources page you can share with staff members.