While every network is a potential target for cyber threats, K-12 school districts are especially under attack. We bore witness to one example recently while assisting a large Midwestern school district that utilizes Google Classroom (which requires Internet access for curriculum, instructional resources, homework, and testing). They were hit repeatedly with coordinated DDoS attacks that swamped their Internet service for nearly two days. Internal IT staff knew the attacks were happening, but couldn’t stop them until they engaged the help of Windstream Enterprise’s DDoS Mitigation service. The result? Immediate detection and mitigation of the attacks and the elimination of downtime and potential losses from simultaneous data theft or ransomware attacks.
This school district was one of the lucky ones who acted swiftly. However, the network of K-12 school districts currently rank as top targets for three types of threats:
Despite being top targets, most school districts have weak network defenses. A 2017 survey by the Consortium for School Networking found that just 15 percent of school technology leaders have a cybersecurity plan.
Making network security a priority for schools
A growing number of school districts have hardened their network defenses by adopting a managed network security solution. Managed security solutions typically deliver extensive, real-time protection against intrusion without requiring the school district to retain internal security expertise or divert general IT resources to challenging security matters.
Why do so many schools remain under-protected? Cost is often cited as the main reason. But as with most severe threats, a focus on preventing data theft, ransomware attacks, and DDoS attacks can prove far more cost-effective and prudent than dealing with them after they arrive.