Last month, we discussed Horry County School District’s experience with a crippling ransomware attack, having no choice but to pay a $10,000 ransom to unlock critical data and systems. We highlighted the first step in strengthening an organization’s security posture against such attacks: user training and awareness. Educating users to be aware of spoofed emails, misleading links, or suspicious attachments is an integral part of network security that can stop a ransomware attack before it even starts.
While effective user training and awareness can significantly reduce the number of successful attacks, keeping your network free of malware also requires a combination of effective perimeter filtering, strategically designed network architecture, and the capability to detect and eliminate resident malware that may already be inside your network. Here are some additional measures schools can take to can help fortify their networks against cyberattacks:Headed #BacktoSchool? Here are some measures schools can take to stay safe from #cyberattacksClick To Tweet
- Prevent threats from entering the network with a next-generation firewall or email security gateway solution to filter out the bulk of the threats. An effective solution should scan incoming traffic using signature matching, advanced heuristics, behavioral analysis, sandboxing, and the ability to correlate findings with real-time global threat intelligence.
- Control and segment network access to minimize the spread of threats that do get in. Ensure that students can only spread malware within their own, limited domain, while also segmenting, for example, administration, teachers, and guests, each with limited, specific access to online resources.
- Clean house. Your infrastructure likely contains a large number of latent threats — email inboxes are full of malicious attachments and links just waiting to be clicked. Similarly, all applications whether locally hosted or cloud-based must be regularly scanned and patched for vulnerabilities.
According to DarkReading, education institutions suffer malware attacks in greater proportions than their peers in government, healthcare, energy, retail, or finance. Phishing and ransomware attacks are not only increasing in number quarter-over-quarter, but these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and malicious in nature. Coupled with user-awareness, protecting your network perimeter across all threat vectors is paramount to combat the ever-changing threat landscape.
Check back next month, when we’ll highlight the most integral part of network defense: a solid backup and recovery plan.
- Barracuda for K-12
- Ransomware and K-12 – Threats and Solutions: Training and Awareness
- Securing Chromebooks in a K-12 Environment
Darius is a veteran of the network industry, with more than 21 years of experience in networking products, enterprise marketing and business development. He is currently Director of Product Marketing for Security at Barracuda Networks.