The education sector has experienced a significant transformation over the last few years, with traditional classrooms expanding into virtual spaces. While this shift has opened up new possibilities and enhanced educational experiences for students and educators, it also exposes educational institutions to more cybersecurity risks.
Ransomware Attacks on the Rise in the Education Sector
Last year, the education sector experienced a staggering 65 individual ransomware attacks, affecting 1,436 schools and as many as 1,074,926 students. These attacks resulted in an estimated cost of $9.45 billion, while individual institutions lost 11.65 days in downtime, on average. The disturbing trend continues in 2023, with 37 confirmed attacks reported in the first half of the year, surpassing the 26 incidents recorded during the same period in 2022.*
The alarming rise in ransomware attacks targeting educational institutions underscores the pressing need for robust campus network security measures. If you’re not taking proactive steps to protect your institution’s network, you leave yourself vulnerable to devastating consequences. This includes data loss, a disrupted learning environment, a tarnished brand image, and, of course, significant financial devastation.
Five ways to safeguard your campus network security
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to fortify campus network security and protect your institution from these emerging risks:
- Implement robust authentication protocols: Ensure strong user authentication measures are in place to verify the identity of individuals accessing the network. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires users to provide multiple forms of verification, such as passwords and biometrics data.
- Regularly update software and firmware: Keep up with the latest patches and security updates to your network devices, operating systems, and applications. Frequent updates radically improve your ability to address dangerous vulnerabilities and protect against potential exploits.
- Use network segmentation: Contain potential breaches and restrict unauthorized movement within your network using network segmentation. This is where you divide your network into smaller, isolated sections. With more granular control over your network, you can reduce your attack surface while enhancing visibility over your entire network security landscape.
- Consider intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) tools: Leverage IDPS technology to monitor network traffic, detect potential threats, and proactively block or mitigate attacks. Offering real-time monitoring, threat analysis, and automated response capabilities, IDPS tools significantly bolster your network’s resilience and protect business continuity.
- Educate and train users: Your network security is only as good as the awareness and actions taken by your users. Hold regular security awareness training sessions for students, faculty, and staff. Teach them about things like phishing scams, password best practices, and the importance of reporting suspicious activities. By fostering a security-conscious culture, users become an active line of defense against cyber threats.
By taking proactive steps to safeguard your campus network, you can establish a robust defense against evolving cyber threats. This allows your organization to provide a secure and uninterrupted educational experience for your students, faculty, and staff.
Not sure where to start? Zunesis can help. With advanced expertise in Aruba Networks’ comprehensive campus network security solutions, our team can help you protect your network infrastructure. We have the expertise to help you maintain a secure environment for your institution and the students you serve.