As Ransomware Attacks Rise, How Should K-12 Schools Evaluate Network Security?

July 21, 2023
Mike Matranga

 

Chris Caruso, COO and CTO of M6 Global Defense, sheds light on the significance of network security in schools, considering the alarming rise in ransomware attacks targeting K-12 institutions nationwide. Protecting the network is crucial, and implementing key security measures doesn’t have to be expensive.

Chris emphasizes the importance of authentication as the first line of defense. Multi-factor authentication, such as utilizing radius buttons in Google or Windows 365 systems, ensures that only authorized individuals access the network. By requiring secondary verification, like passwords or biometrics, schools can enhance network security significantly.

Updating software and patching vulnerabilities is the next critical step. Ensuring that all devices operating on the network have up-to-date firmware and software prevents exploitable weaknesses that could lead to major security breaches.

Another essential aspect is implementing an incident response plan (IRP). Chris highlights the significance of testing and proper implementation of the IRP. Post-event incidents have revealed the consequences of lacking a plan or neglecting its testing, resulting in valuable time wasted. Detecting unauthorized access promptly and taking immediate action to lock down the network is crucial. Having fresh backups in place aids in business continuity and disaster recovery, protecting against data encryption or ransomware attempts.

Furthermore, network administrators and IT professionals should engage with school management, students, staff, and administrators to identify critical areas and determine their specific needs for uninterrupted services. Understanding the crown jewels of the school system ensures a swift recovery and minimizes disruptions to educational activities.

In conclusion, safeguarding network security in schools is vital. Multi-factor authentication, software updates, and a robust incident response plan protect data and ensure uninterrupted education. Prioritizing network security mitigates risks and creates a safe digital environment for all.

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