How ReadiTech’s proactive cybersecurity tools can protect schools against cyberattacks

In 2018, hackers stole nearly 447 million consumer records containing sensitive personal information—an increase of 126 percent from 2017. With hackers becoming savvier and the number of cyber attacks on the rise, it is important for all businesses and individuals to focus on keeping their data safe. However, one industry where cybersecurity tends to be overlooked is education.

“Schools are focused on so many other things. They don’t often have the time and resources to really focus on cybersecurity, to train faculty and staff to recognize potential attacks,” said Brandon Huber, Managed Security Analyst at ReadiTech. “But the tools hackers use are changing quickly and if you aren’t keeping up with them, you won’t be prepared to fight them.”

That’s why ReadiTech works with local schools to strengthen their cybersecurity systems. By implementing proactive solutions, remotely accessing computers to fix common cybersecurity issues, and providing security awareness training for faculty and staff, ReadiTech helps schools protect their time—and their students.

Schools may not seem like an obvious target for a cyber attack; banks, businesses, and hospitals all collect information that would appear to be more valuable to a hacker. But, as Brandon explains, hackers are not always selective about the systems they attempt to breach.

“Ask yourself: ‘What is the most valuable data in my network?’ That’s generally what attackers are going to go after,” Brandon said. “They don’t have to know why the data is important, they just need to know it’s important to you.”

The most important data schools collect is student records, including names, dates of birth, addresses, medical records, and parent information. Once a hacker manages to steal this information, they can either use it for their own purposes or sell it to another bad actor who hopes to perform identity theft.

The fastest-growing method behind these breaches is ransomware, a form of malicious software (or “malware”) typically spread through emails containing links to infected websites. Once that link is clicked, the hacker is able to access the user’s data and lock it, so that it cannot be accessed until a ransom is paid.

“Ransomware is becoming more popular than the older methods when attackers would try to defeat a firewall,“ Brandon said. “It’s easier for attackers to send a bad link and get the end-user to click on it. That’s what makes it so dangerous.”

So how can schools defend themselves against cyberattacks like these? According to Brandon, the best thing schools can do to protect their data is to be proactive.

“It is easier to keep an attack out than to come back in and fix everything afterward,” he said. “The sad fact is that after an attack, there is no way to know for sure that all of your systems are safe. A lot of times you have to completely wipe out the system, and hopefully you have a good back-up system, but even with that, it can be a really time consuming and painful process to clean up after an attack.”

Cybersecurity is not a one-size-fits-all solution. ReadiTech meets with each individual school to perform a total assessment of the cybersecurity tools they are already paying for. Then, based on current security trends, we make recommendations to fix the gaps in the school’s system while ensuring the best value.

From there, ReadiTech will implement multiple lines of defense like firewalls, data back-up, and Web Guardian, a cloud-based, managed antivirus tool that offers advanced threat detection and helps users avoid clicking on potentially dangerous links.

Like a fortress with a series of stone walls to keep out intruders, ReadiTech’s multi-layered approach to cybersecurity keeps potential hackers away from your sensitive information.

“The best offense is a layered approach,” Brandon said. “If the attacker defeats the first perimeter, but then they reach a second or third layer that they were not expecting, it gets to be a more difficult attack. They will eventually get discouraged and move onto an easier target.”

If a school does run into any issues with these cybersecurity tools, ReadiTech is able to fix them through remote access to the school’s computers—saving the school money they would spend if a technician needed to make a trip to the school. However, our goal is for schools to be so well protected against cyber attacks that these issues never arise.

To make this hope a reality, ReadiTech recently began administering security awareness training to schools, teaching faculty and staff how to identify and avoid common scams.

“Being educated is the best way to defend yourself against a potential hacking attempt,” Brandon said. “The threats are out there, and they are constantly changing. The better educated our schools are, the better prepared they will be to defend against tools that we haven’t even heard of yet.”

No business or organization is immune to cyber attacks. However, at ReadiTech, we believe that it is especially important to protect our schools—and our students—against these crimes.

“As a parent, I’m especially interested in maintaining the security of our schools’ data,” Brandon said. “These are our children, our families, and our neighbors. It feels good to know that we are helping keep them safe.”

To learn how ReadiTech’s proactive and time-saving cybersecurity tools can defend your school or business against cyber attacks, click here.

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