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Cyber security training for educational institutions
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Cyber security training for educational institutions

Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir
6 min read ∙ Jun 17, 2020

Cyber attacks on colleges and universities are more common than you’d think. That’s why AwareGO has created a ready made cyber security training for educational institutions. Security awareness training of employees and administrators is one of the ways to reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

AwareGO offers engaging and fun training content that employees love. We also offer a complimentary cloud-based training software for those who need it. Furthermore our training programs can easily be integrated with all modern communicative software that might be in place, such as SharePoint and Slack. Try our content and software out for free, no credit card or commitment needed.

AwareGO's cyber security training for educational institutions

What’s in it?

For the security awareness training for educational institutions we’ve selected 19 modules. These can be delivered over a period of time and we recommend assigning 2-3 modules each week. Each module takes only 2-3 minutes to finish. We have put emphasis on data security, phishing and ransomware in this program. These subjects seem to be the main pressure points for educational institutions. All of our other content is, of course, included in the subscription.

The designed training program for educational institutions includes security awareness videos and additional reading content. Subjects include phishing and spear phishing, password handling, secure WiFi, data security, links and attachments in emails and more. We add 1-2 modules to our portfolio every month. Relevant topics will be added to the security awareness training for educational institutions as we go along.

Online education is on the rise

The education system has been gradually moving towards more online communication. This applies both between students and teachers but also in the overall administration, databases, teacher-parent communication and so forth. Students now have easier access to their teachers. Teachers, in return, have better access to their students as well as all sorts of educational material and methods that weren’t available before. The online-education trend is soaring. Therefore it is time we looked at the cyber risks and cyber security measures available to educational institutions.

Online education - Security awareness training for educational institutions is important

Higher education is vulnerable

Universities and colleges must have an open network that their students and staff can access. This means that hackers have many opportunities to enter the system. Because so much data is at risk these schools need to take proactive measures to prevent attacks. A small data breach where email addresses of students or faculty leak out could lead to a wide spread phishing attack. This would be an attempt to gather more sensitive information through phishing emails. That way, hackers might reach further and further into the more protected realms of the institution’s computer system.

What are hackers after?

The three most common reasons for hackers to target educational institutions is to get their hands on money, personally identifiable information and/or valuable, confidential research. Holding data ransom is one of the most common ways in which hackers make money. Prominent educational institutions are more likely to pay ransom for stolen data than to face the damage to their reputation.

Furthermore, they are a goldmine of personally identifiable information. This is due to their large student populations with unblemished credit histories, alumni and faculty data. Educational institutions collect a lot of data. Some even have passport information and health care data for their students. Last, but not least, educational institutions, especially universities are targeted for their valuable research. Cyber espionage attacks in educational institutions are on the rise. This is especially true for universities with medical centers and substantial research profiles.

Ransomware attack is why you need security awareness training for educational institutions.
Prominent educational institutions are more likely to pay ransom for stolen data than to face the damage to their reputation.

Security awareness training for professors and faculty

So what do we need to keep in mind when we think about cyber security for educational institutions? One of the first things that comes to mind is the security of the administrative system. The second is the security awareness of the faculty and office staff. Data protection laws have, and will continue to, come down hard on all organizations that willingly or accidentally mishandle the private information of their clients and staff or, in the case of educational institutions, students. Keeping student’s personal information safe, such as academic scores, addresses and other sensitive data, is of the utmost importance. Breaches can have sever consequences for both the educational institutions and the students in question.

In order for any educational institution to be able to call itself cyber secure it will need to tackle risky behavior. Strong firewalls and safety measures should be in place. However, they will surely fail if the staff simply lets the hackers in the front door. Offering security awareness training to all members of the staff will minimize the risk of a breach and create a strong security culture on campus.

Choose the right tools

Cyber security for educational institutions also applies to the teacher-student communication. Online tools are being used more frequently. This means that private equipment is being used as well. The students’ private equipment is less likely to have the same security standards as the school’s equipment. It is therefore an easier target for potential hackers. 

We believe many educational institutions saw a rise in cyber attacks when taking education on-line during the Covid-19 pandemic. Had they all been prepared for a full online curriculum and teachers working from home, a lot of these attempts might have been avoided. For instance, teachers may have been using online tools and software that was less than optimal security wise. Even though, at fast glance, it looked alright and got the job done in a pinch. Colleges and universities need to research the software and tools they intend to use for these purposes. They also need to teach cyber secure practices to their faculty before implementing them.

Teaching online requires security awareness training for educational institutions

Everyone needs to be prepared

By the end of last winter it became very clear which higher education institutions were ready for the online revolution and which ones weren’t. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it obvious that we have an opportunity to offer online education. An opportunity that we should absolutely utilize. With this come new challenges. Hackers were already likely to target the education sector. With more online education and communication they will have even more ways to carry out their sinister work. That’s why cyber security awareness is critical for educational institutions.

Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir
6 min read ∙ Jun 17, 2020

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