How Secure Is Your School From Cyber Attacks?

In the new digital age where educational institutions rely heavily on a robust technology infrastructure and online services to thrive, the importance of cyber security in schools cannot be overestimated.  

Unfortunately, cyber attacks on schools are more common than you might think. According to a recent survey, in 2022, 17% of UK schools reported experiencing cyber attacks, with ransomware making up 48% of these incidents. Ransomware attacks encrypt and lock data, holding it hostage until a ransom is paid, which poses a significant threat to the confidentiality and availability of educational resources. 

With the vast amounts of sensitive data stored and managed by schools, including the personal information of students, parents, and staff, ensuring robust cyber security measures is imperative to safeguard against potential cyber attacks and data breaches.

What is cyber security?

Keeping schools safe

Cyber security in education encompasses a range of measures aimed at protecting users, devices, and data from theft or damage by malicious actors and rogue software. Beyond the protection of personal data, a cyber security incident can disrupt the functioning of a school, compromise the security of its data, and tarnish its reputation. 

Meanwhile, the financial implications of not investing in an effective cyber security strategy are all too clear. At the recent Computeam MATPN Conference on CyberSafeguarding, it was revealed that in 2022,  the average recovery cost of ransomware attacks on UK schools reached around £600,000. Perhaps more alarmingly, the breaches themselves only accounted for 20% of the total expenses incurred. The downtime caused by such incidents averaged 21 days, severely disrupting educational processes. 

What’s more, schools are facing sharp increases in cyber insurance policy renewals, with some providers excluding coverage for institutions with inadequate cybersecurity measures.

It is, therefore, crucial for senior leaders and governing bodies to prioritise cyber security as a key concern, ensuring that all steps taken are compliant with GDPR and the safeguarding of pupils.

Cyber audits

Identifying areas of risk

One of the best places to start is with a cyber audit of current systems, processes, tools, and user awareness and availability of training. The report should contain an RAG rating alongside recommendations for improvement. Often benchmarking is also included which compares best-of-breed practices within similar-sized trusts or schools.

Introducing Learning Locker

Equip staff with cyber security training essentials

While defending and protecting systems may seem an obvious part of any cyber security strategy, something which is covered comprehensively in Computeam’s Secure service package, perhaps one of the most fundamental tools to mitigate and counter cyber security threats is through training of school staff. 

Indeed, according to the same 2022 survey, 62% of schools had not provided their staff with any cybersecurity training, increasing the risk of successful attacks. Moreover, 31% of schools did not have an IT security policy in place, indicating a lack of a coherent strategy to protect data assets and infrastructure.

The survey also revealed that 54% of schools were without a well-developed risk and business continuity plan. This lack of preparedness can significantly hamper a school's ability to recover from cyber-attacks, potentially leading to prolonged disruptions and the loss of critical data.

Learning Locker, an innovative online learning platform offered as part of Computeam's Engage service, is designed to support school staff with flexible, self-directed learning opportunities tailored to the unique needs of educators. The platform hosts a wide range of key courses, covering essential compliance topics such as GDPR and cyber security, as well as upskilling programs for Microsoft and Google platforms.

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Personalised learning experiences

Flexible solutions for every school

Computeam's comprehensive suite of dynamic learning opportunities aims to equip school staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of technology in an educational setting. With a vast course library and the ability to track course completion, administrators can ensure that staff members are adequately trained to handle cyber security risks effectively.

As well as mandatory compliance training, Computeam's learning platform offers a range of upskilling courses to enhance educators' proficiency in tech integration across all levels. By providing personalised learning experiences and the flexibility to access content at their own pace, Learning Locker helps educators to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest cyber security best practices and technological advancements.

By partnering with Computeam and taking advantage of our Learning Locker services, schools can take proactive steps towards strengthening their cyber security measures. With a focus on continuous learning and skill development, educators can play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive data and mitigating cyber threats within their educational institutions.

How can we help?

Cyber security is paramount in today's digital climate, particularly in educational settings where vast amounts of sensitive data are at stake.

One of the best first steps a school or trust can take is to undertake a cyber audit benchmarked against others with recommendations, including phishing simulation to assess users' awareness, coupled with training and reporting — all of which Computeam can offer to educators as a complete service.

Meanwhile, Learning Locker provides a comprehensive, multifaceted solution to equip school staff with the knowledge and skills needed to enact a robust cyber security strategy, ensuring a safe learning environment for all stakeholders. For more information about safeguarding your school against the latest cyber security risks, please contact us by click the button below. We’re here to help.

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Posted on March 7th 2024

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