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5 Essential Steps for Protecting Education Districts Against Cyber Threats: A Guide for Schools

As schools continue to shift towards more technology-based learning, the potential for cyber threats to local education districts like Lompoc Unified School District and Santa Maria-Bonita School District becomes an increasingly pressing concern. These threats can come in many forms, ranging from phishing attacks and ransomware to more targeted efforts to steal sensitive student and faculty data.

To protect against these threats, it is important for education districts to take a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity. This can include implementing strong passwords and two-factor authentication, training staff and faculty on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks, and regularly backing up important data. It can also be helpful for schools to work with cybersecurity experts to ensure that their systems and networks are as secure as possible.

In late 2020, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was hit with a ransomware attack that disrupted the district's online learning platform and forced many schools to switch to remote learning. The attack, which was later attributed to the Ryuk ransomware strain, encrypted the district's data and demanded a ransom in exchange for the decryption key.

The ransomware attack on LAUSD serves as a reminder of the potential consequences of these types of attacks on education districts. Ransomware can be particularly disruptive to schools, as it can prevent access to important data and disrupt the daily operations of the district. In the case of LAUSD, the attack caused widespread disruptions and forced many schools to switch to remote learning, highlighting the importance of taking proactive measures to protect against these types of threats.

Here are 5 steps every school district should take to improve their Cybersecurity program and help protect against common threats.

  • Implement strong passwords and two-factor authentication: Using strong, unique passwords and implementing two-factor authentication can help prevent unauthorized access to school networks and systems.

  • Train staff and faculty on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks: Phishing attacks are a common type of cyber threat, and it is important for staff and faculty to be able to identify these types of attacks and know how to avoid falling victim to them.

  • Regularly back up important data: Regularly backing up important data ensures that schools have access to a copy of their data in the event of a cyber attack or other disaster.

  • Work with cybersecurity experts: Partnering with cybersecurity experts can help schools ensure that their networks and systems are as secure as possible and can provide valuable guidance on how to protect against threats.

  • Implement robust cybersecurity policies: Establishing clear and comprehensive cybersecurity policies can help schools ensure that all staff and faculty are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to protecting against cyber threats.

If you are a member of an education district in Santa Barbara County and are looking to improve your cybersecurity posture, consider reaching out to a local cybersecurity company such as StarSyn LLC. Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience necessary to help schools protect against a range of cyber threats and ensure that their networks and systems are secure. Contact us to learn more about the comprehensive IT and cyber services we offer and how we can help protect your school against the growing threat of cyber attacks.

Jacob Keith

COO, StarSyn LLC

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