- Cloud tools are helping schools and districts increase efficiency and free faculty and staff for more important concerns, but with 46% of IT leaders naming security concerns as a barrier and 28% naming student data privacy specifically, keeping everything safe and secure remains a top priority, EdTech: Focus on K-12 reports.
- Layering security is a critical tactic in doing so, with recommendations including the encryption of sensitive data, the use of gateway appliances to manage cloud access, and additional identity protection and anti-virus tools.
- The most important step in maintaining security, however, remains end-user education like mandatory privacy awareness programs for students, faculty and staff.
The digitization of the classroom over the past several years has seen K-12 schools and districts increasingly getting up to speed on the cybersecurity issues higher ed institutions have contended with for perhaps a decade or more longer. And while the scale may be significantly different, districts can still look to their college and university peers for best practices on how to batten down the digital hatches.
For example, at the University of Dayton, Associate Provost and CIO Thomas Skill has implemented a "cyber mindfulness" campaign with a goal of getting all students, faculty and staff to think of everything they do as a potential security risk. This includes running phishing tests via a company called KnowBe4; sending updates, warnings and security news, and offering incentives for users to complete certain actions.
Additionally, districts and schools should work with vendors to ensure logins have security features like two-factor authentication in place, and that there's clear communication about how exactly the vendor itself stores and protects sensitive information.