Cloud Is the Answer for K-12 Security Woes

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 18, 2016 11:07:52 AM / by Pedro Pereira

k-12-beyond-the-browser.jpgYou wouldn’t think it, but student data in school campuses has become a favorite target for hackers. School districts routinely collect an assortment of data on students, including attendance and medical records, and store it on their servers.

Unfortunately that data is too tempting a target for cybercriminals, who have stepped up cyber attacks against K-12 school districts in recent years. In 2013, the Sachem, NY, school district, one of the largest on Long Island, fell victim to such an attack. The hacker posted online the ID numbers and names of pupils who get free or reduced-price lunches.

Other hacks against districts in Kansas, Utah, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have become all too common. These attacks are costly, forcing school districts to consider new ways to secure networks. In many cases, they’ll find cloud-based security is the answer.

Increased Tech Reliance

Schools have caught the eye of cybercriminals because technology is playing a larger role in education, as more and more classrooms connect to the Internet and students bring mobile devices into campuses.

Add to that the administrative information schools keep on their students, and campuses become simply too hard to resist for hackers, be they students with a grudge or run-of-the-mill cybercriminals looking to steal information they can sell.While learning applications and mobile devices are welcome educational tools, they can pose serious security challenges. As networks become more distributed and complex, traditional on-premises web filters and firewalls don’t provide enough security coverage anymore.

Schools are always under budget constraints, so adding hardware to scale networks that handle ever-increasing volumes of data gets prohibitive. Mobile devices, while adding new security and management challenges, also strain the performance of networks that weren’t originally set up for them.

Look to the Cloud

To address these challenges, school districts should consider a cloud-based security platform to handle all the data in their networks, whether it flows in and out through mobile devices or traditional channels.

A cloud-based approach eliminates the cost of adding hardware every time you need to scale to accommodate growth. The cost savings on reduced hardware, power usages and physical space for equipment can be significant.

Cloud platforms are centrally managed and get regular updates, allowing you to leverage new functionality as it gets introduced. The done work is done for you. Frequent updates ensure that security tools keep up with signatures for new malware strains that can elude traditional endpoint security and web-filtering systems. 

A cloud-based security platform also helps achieve regulation compliance and brings consistency to policy enforcement. In addition, granular, user-level control to monitor helps you address issues such as cyber-bullying.

Security is an ongoing concern for any K-12 school district, and money is always tight. For schools looking to get for their investment in up-to-date, comprehensive security, their best bet is to move security to the cloud.


 

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Topics: K-12

Pedro Pereira

Written by Pedro Pereira

Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades, with a recent strong focus on cybersecurity, managed services and the cloud’s evolution. He can be reached at pedrocolumn@gmail.com.