The Importance Of Cyber Security For Educational Institutions

Cyber threats against educational institution data are on the rise. In fact, the “education service sub-sector is rated third in the top targets of data breach incidents.” From the span of 2005-2016, there were 539 educational institution data breaches involving nearly 13 million known personal records. Those are frightening statistics. And, according to cyber security experts, another problem for school systems, colleges, and universities is that they often “lack specific plans for dealing with data breaches once they occur.”

Keep reading to learn how and why data breaches in the education industry happen, the importance of education cyber security, cyber solutions for educational institutions, and how ANS Federal can help protect both employee and student data.

Why and How Data Breaches in the Education Industry Happen

Educational institutions are extremely “vulnerable to outside hacking, in-house errors, and even technology gaps” But, why?

When it comes to cyber security, educational institution networks face four “unique problems.”

  1. School districts, colleges, and universities all have access to a vast amount of personal data. Educational networks are extremely “enticing targets because they hold personal information such as Social Security numbers, medical records, intellectual property, and research data.” And, it’s not just current students and employees who are at risk for personal data exposure. According to University Business, educational institutions often have access to the personal information of:
  • Job applicants
  • Alumni
  • Collaborators
  • Research and project participants
  • Vendors
  • Parents
  1. Educational institutions also often have many points of access. Many schools, especially colleges and universities “offer online environments for learning and collaboration that are open to countless students and staff members logging in with their own computers.”And, don’t forget about cell phones. According to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report, “unpatched mobile devices and grayware make life easier for attackers.” In fact, mobile security threats have grown by 54% in the last year.
  2. Human error is the cause of 25% of educational institution data breaches. These errors include “leaving a computer unlocked, writing a password on a sticky note, losing a device,” and opening suspicious emails.
  3. Frankly, IT professionals in the education industry are struggling. They have lots of demands placed on them. They face the difficult task of protecting their educational institutions from data breaches while allowing the “freedom of access” school systems, colleges, and universities need. Plus, these professionals often have to work with “limited resources and budgetary restraints.”

The Consequences of Data Breaches in the Education Industry

Educational institution data breaches are “embarrassing and expensive” and can even lead to “costly lawsuits.” As a matter of fact, the cost of data breaches in the education industry is the “second highest of all industries.”

When the 5,400-student Mount Pleasant Independent School District in Texas experienced a data breach in 2015 that exposed the private data of 915 former employees (including Social Security numbers), they ended up spending a whopping $36,000 for a year’s worth of credit-monitoring services.

It is estimated that the average cost for “each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information is $148.”

And, it’s not just about the money. Educational institutions also face the loss of trust by their faculty, students, and parents after a cyber attack. It’s a difficult thing for any school to overcome.

How Applied Network Solutions Can Help

At ANS, we design, develop, and defend networks around the world. We truly believe that understanding all possible cyber threats schools face is the key to defending and protecting educational institutions from data breaches.

Our cyber security services are not a one-size-fits-all solution and include all of the following in order to provide the best protection for your institution’s infrastructure, including valuable employee and student data:

  • Assessments
  • Security product testing and evaluation
  • Security engineering
  • Security infrastructure design
  • Complex infrastructure implementation
  • Management, penetration, and vulnerability management
  • Policy development
  • Continuity planning and implementation

And, At ANS we take the necessary steps to ensure that your institution is adequately protected against any harmful threats.

Ready to protect your educational institution, employees, and students from cyber security threats? Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive cyber solutions for educational institutions and how they can help keep your institution’s data stay safe.


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