Senior IT heads in education need urgent cybersecurity assessment

Photo By Nathan Dumlao Unsplash

With chaos comes cyber criminals

The education sector’s dramatic transformation in the way it now delivers its services to school students, during COVID-19 has raised concerns among IT security professionals.

Michael Warnock, head of growth APAC at SecureAuth said the rapid move to online home-schooling has thrown the education system and family life into disarray. Teachers are also scrambling to provide content in a new format that is easy for students to access and families are feeling the burden of the increased responsibility.

“Among that chaos, it’s important that security and privacy are not overlooked,” he said. “The increase of teaching staff working remotely and joining education networks from their personal devices places schools at an increased threat of ransomware, phishing and other cyber-attack.”

According to Warnock, it’s important for schools and educational organisations to understand their security obligations particularly when keeping student data and content safe.

“Schools must have the right encryption on the video platforms, controls around access, who is in the video session so you can’t get “zoom boomed” and secure sharing of records and, of course, making sure the right settings are on for privacy,” he said.

Jacqueline Jayne security awareness advocate at KnowBe4 is concerned that kids and teachers are dealing with enough right now without the added burden of Covid19 related cyberthreats.

Recent reports indicate during March, “coronavirus-related phishing attacks went up 667 percent”, she said.

“As a cybersecurity professional, I am concerned.  Concerned that our kids and teachers are dealing with enough right now without the added burden of Covid19 related cyberthreats,” Jayne said.

“With recent reports indicating that in the month of March, coronavirus-related phishing attacks went up 667 per cent.

Every single country around the globe has now been hit with at least one phishing attack related to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to continue educating about the various ways cyber criminals will try to entrap.”

Warnock told CIO Tech Asia as per many other industry sectors, education is facing the need for a dramatic transformation in the way it delivers its services in wake of Covid-19.

“For IT leaders in this space, there is now more than ever a change to the threat landscape and unfortunately ‘with chaos comes cyber criminals’,” he said. “An urgent reassessment of cyber system and policies is needed to ensure the right level of protection is in place. If an issue arises, a plan to navigate their way through and out of the situation is critical daily cyber hygiene.”

Warnock said the focus needs not only to be external, looking in but also education organisations must have a lens applied to the potential insider risk at this time.


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