October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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October is filled with things that go bump in the night. With scary stories being told all month long, it’s not uncommon for people to feel a little uneasy this time of year. However, October is not only time to hear about monsters— it’s also a time to manage threats lurking online.

October has been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness (NCSAM) month since 2003. According to an article by The Cyber Security and Information Systems Information Analysis Center, “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government, academia and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and secure online while increasing the resilience of the Nation against cyber threats.” This year’s theme is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT” and is meant to encourage us all to be a little more proactive when it comes to protecting ourselves online.

Cyber Security isn’t just something to think about at home. Cybercriminals are targeting schools too, and with student’s sensitive information at risk, it’s vital that schools take steps to make sure they are protected. An article from The Journal explains, “educational institutions may be targeted by financial criminals looking to take over bursary accounts and student identities. Another relevant threat [is] hacktivists looking to champion a cause by holding an institute for ransom or threatening to release stolen data”. These increased risks mean it’s more important now than ever before for schools to “Own IT, Secure IT and Protect IT”.

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Own IT

Own IT focuses on encouraging everyone to own their online security by being aware of the threats they are susceptible to through their devices. By understanding what threats may compromise online security, we are better able to manage and assesses risk. Some additional threats schools need to be aware of include how many users are on these devices, who has access to school secured networks, and who has administrative access.

Secure IT

Secure IT is all about helping consumers to understand what they can do (and what software they can use) to secure their information online. From something simple like adding Multi-Factor Authentication to devices, to more in depth solutions like installing cyber security software like ESET, there are plenty of steps we can all take to make sure our personal information is secure online. When it comes to protecting sensitive information in schools, companies like GoGaurdian also help to monitor users, and can even help to filter out phishing scams and other threats that may help hackers get access.

Protect IT

Protect IT aims to help people understand how to keep their digital profile safe. Things like practicing good cyber hygiene can make a big difference when it comes to protecting sensitive information online. By reviewing privacy settings on social media, only following links trusted links, and regularly updating passwords, we protect ourselves and limit the scope of cyber crimes. IBM X-Force has also suggested that IT professionals in schools should be sure to educate and alert students and educators about phishing and malware schemes, and should run regular tests and exercises to prepare for and assess risks.

This Halloween leave the scaring to the professionals— take some time to learn more about what can be done to protect sensitive information online.

What new products have you seen that could help schools manage online threats?

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