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Schools warned of cyber attack threat as new term begins

As students across the globe gear up for another academic year, there's a crucial lesson educators and administrators need to teach and practice: cyber security. In a digital age where educational institutions increasingly rely on technology, the threat of cyber attacks is more significant than ever before. A recent report from Sky News highlights the urgent need for schools to fortify their digital defences as they kick off a new year.

Why Are Schools Vulnerable?
Educational institutions are increasingly digitising their operations, from conducting classes online to storing sensitive student and staff information electronically. This shift has made schools a prime target for cyber criminals. Here are some reasons why schools are vulnerable:

Limited Resources: Many schools, especially smaller ones, lack the financial resources to invest heavily in cyber security measures. This makes them tempting targets for attackers.

Lack of Awareness: Teachers, staff, and students may not be fully aware of the latest cyber security threats and best practices, making them susceptible to phishing scams and other attacks.

Valuable Data: Schools house a wealth of valuable information, including student records, financial data, and sensitive research. Cyber criminals seek to exploit this data for financial gain or to commit identity theft.

The Importance of Vigilance.
As the new academic year begins, schools should prioritise cyber security training and awareness programs. Here are some steps that educational institutions can take to bolster their defences:

Cyber security Training: Provide regular training and awareness programs for staff and students. Teach them how to recognise phishing emails, use strong passwords, and follow best practices for online security.

Regular Updates: Keep software and systems up to date with the latest security patches to minimise vulnerabilities.

Data Encryption: Implement encryption for sensitive data to protect it from unauthorised access.
Firewall and Antivirus: Ensure that robust firewall and antivirus solutions are in place to detect and prevent threats.

Incident Response Plan: Develop and rehearse an incident response plan to effectively handle cyber security incidents if they occur.

Backups: Regularly back up critical data to prevent data loss in case of an attack.

The warning from the National Cyber Security Centre serves as a timely reminder that educational institutions must not underestimate the importance of cyber security. With the increasing reliance on digital tools and platforms for education, schools must be proactive in safeguarding their systems and data. By prioritising cyber security education, and implementing robust security measures, schools can better protect their students, staff, and valuable information from cyber threats in the coming academic year and beyond.

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