Education Data Breaches

School administrators are beginning to realize the importance of their data. Historically schools were more concerned with inside threats of students hacking into their system than being targeted by outside threats. This was simply because it was never clear how scholastic information could be monetized. However, cyber thieves are using today’s technology to target schools in masses, looking for sensitive data beyond just student academic information.

What data needs securing?

School administrators are prepared to protect the traditional scholastic information they’ve always held close, such as grades, test scores, etc. But these days’ student data includes much more that could be considered sensitive; health records, family income, login information, social security numbers, and more. All these types of data can be used for malicious purposes when in the wrong hands. And it’s not only the student data administrators are responsible for, securing the faculty data is equally important.

Securing data on every device

Failing to secure every device that connects to the school’s network provides the ultimate breach opportunity. Most schools rely on its teachers and administrators to use good judgment, strong passwords, and other process driven security practices, but as authentication methods vary from school to school, a security-enabled mobile device management (MDM) model becomes crucial. Influencing users to create a profile to ensure they meet minimum security status is essential. An ideal MDM tool is compatible with all common handheld devices in your environment; can function through multiple service providers, can be implemented directly over the air, target specific devices as necessary, can quickly deploy next-generation hardware, operating platforms and applications; and can allow a school district to add or remove devices as needed.

Help protect data with encryption

It is very important to protect data at all times and wherever it may reside in all of the three states it may be in; in motion, at rest, or in process. Data may be at rest while it’s stored on a district’s cloud based server storage systems, but when that data is recalled it’s in motion over the internet and vulnerable until it reaches its destination. Data is considered in motion anytime it’s on the network, whether that’s through WiFi, the internet, or on a school’s internal network. The data is also typically exposed while it’s being analyzed or processed. It is of the utmost importance that strong encryption be enforced in all three states to maintain a trusted level of security.

Securing data at every movement

As described above, data is at its most exposed when it’s in motion. As a result, schools must monitor the flow of outbound and inbound data closely. Data loss prevention systems can operate at the network level and the host level, these systems are configured with rules to detect important data that an educational facility owns and ensures it is being moved across a network properly and not off-loaded to an unauthorized device.

In summary, all children should have the opportunity to learn through a technologically enhanced experience, but technology alone cannot ensure school data privacy. While cyber thieves are resilient, data security is a continuous process that requires parents, educators, students and vendors to work together and to leverage best practices for a breach-less experience.

Intel offers a host of cloud-based technologies that schools can take advantage of. Visit our cloud landing page to learn more about how schools are advancing learning with tech. Read more about Mike Moshier and his other great blogs.

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