Preventing cyber-attacks requires a multi-layered approach that encompasses both technical and educational measures. It’s a constant battle so here’s our top five things your school can do to help prevent cyber-attacks:
- Implement robust network security measures
If you haven’t already, you should invest in robust network security measures to protect your systems and sensitive data. This includes using firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and strong encryption protocols to secure your networks. Regular security audits and updates should also be conducted to identify and address vulnerabilities, as well as ensure the measures you have put in place are still fit for purpose.
- Educate students and staff about cyber security and data protection
Provide cyber security and data protection awareness training to students and staff. This training should cover topics such as safe internet browsing practices, identifying phishing emails, creating strong passwords, and reporting suspicious activities. Promoting a culture of cyber security and data protection awareness, you can reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.
- Implement strong password policies
Weak passwords are one of the primary entry points for hackers. You should enforce robust password policies that require complex and unique passwords for all user accounts. Additionally, implementing other controls such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification steps, such as a fingerprint or a unique code sent to a mobile device.
- Regularly update and patch software
Keep all software and operating systems up to date with the latest security patches and updates, check this is being done regularly. Many cyber-attacks exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software versions so by applying regular updates, you can close security loopholes and minimise the risk of attacks.
- Backup important data and establish disaster recovery plans
Regularly backing up critical data is essential in case of a cyber-attack or data breach. Schools should maintain secure backups of important files and establish disaster recovery plans to ensure quick restoration of systems and minimise the impact of an attack. Regular testing of backups and recovery processes is crucial to ensure their effectiveness.
It's important to note that preventing cyber-attacks requires ongoing efforts and staying updated on the latest security practices. Seeking guidance from cyber security professionals such as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and other organisations can help to ensure you can continuously adapt to emerging threats.