As we settle back into some sense of normalcy, students and teachers will be heading back to onsite learning this fall. In doing so, K-12 schools must keep cybersecurity top of mind to protect their digital landscape, especially for those that will continue operating partially remote. Staying safe online is and teaching online safety in schools is even more important this year as K-12 ransomware attacks increased in number and severity over the past year, accounting for 57% of all attacks, according to the FBI. 

Schools struggled with digitization as they were forced to quickly adapt to a remote learning environment. As a result, students and faculty were seen as vulnerable points of entry for bad actors. Each laptop opens up the attack surface to infect an entire school’s computer network if the proper cybersecurity protocols are not properly implemented across these endpoints. Ransomware is a critical issue and affects schools in more ways than one: 

  • Learning disruption associated with closing schools and/or disabling laptops, networks, etc. 
  • Threat to student safety and data privacy. 
  • Overhead costs associated with IT and cybersecurity improvements.

K-12 schools with constrained budgets struggle to employ a security team in-house to mitigate threats and are relying on managed detection and response (MDR) services to monitor their digital landscapes on a 24/7 basis. Cybercriminals can linger within a network for months before being detected, which makes 360-degree visibility imperative to respond to threats in real time and eliminate blind spots. 

On a basic level, educating both students and faculty on practicing good cybersecurity hygiene is important to prevent and identify red flags that lead to ransomware attacks. Implementing ongoing education can empower students to act as human firewalls protecting their personal information and engaging safely online. Our back-to-school checklist can help prepare your students and teachers on what to look for so they can help stop cybercriminals in their tracks. Start teaching online safety in schools by accessing your checklist here.

Monique Becenti

Product Marketing Manager | Pondurance

Monique is a Product Marketing Manager and has worked in cybersecurity roles for more than five years. Prior to joining Pondurance, Monique worked with Truyo powered by Intel®, specializing in data privacy rights automation and consent management and was a product and channel marketing specialist at SiteLock. Monique has a passion for cybersecurity and leveraging her knowledge to create better experiences for consumers and businesses throughout their customer journey. Outside of cybersecurity, Monique loves photography and taking pictures of the beautiful Arizona sunsets and landscape.