Security is Key to Sustaining Digital Momentum in K–12

Security is a Moving Target

SCHOOL IT TEAMS FACE MANY challenges in the rapidly changing digital learning landscape, particularly the highly fluid nature of IT security threats.

First, there’s the escalating pace of attacks. According to research by cybersecurity vendor Sonic Wall, in 2021 the education industry saw a 152% increase in ransomware and a 28% rise in attacks targeting Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints K–12.

In the first half of 2022, attacks on education rose another 42%. “Education has consistently seen more IoT malware than any other industry,” Sonic Wall reported. “Given the massive increase in the amount of IoT malware targeting education customers, those who are being targeted can expect to see even more IoT malware attempts than before.”

The proliferation of endpoints itself makes data security a moving target. One survey found that by March 2021, 90% of educators said there was at least one device for every middle- and high-school student, and 84% said the same about elementary schoolers. That’s up from a pre-pandemic rate of roughly 66% and 42%, respectively.

A Way Forward

SUSTAINING DIGITAL MOMENTUM will require schools to go beyond the heterogeneous point solutions that have proved both difficult to manage and ineffective in checking cyber threats in K–12, and instead evolve a strategy for implementing end-to-end data security.

An even more robust approach would prioritize an integrated solution, one that works consistently and effectively and one with the elasticity to change with changing circumstances in K–12.

“An effective approach uses solutions that deliver protection in the network, in the cloud and at the endpoint,” according to Sonic Wall. “Your network ecosystem must ensure real-time breach prevention and secure access to resources from anywhere, from any device, at any time.”

An end-to-end solution would address a wide range of potential threats. For example, it would empower IT teams to control access to sites based on individual or group identity, and would block harmful web content on both district-issued laptops and personal devices.

At the same time, an integrated solution should stop targeted phishing, impersonation and account-takeover exploits, while providing actionable intelligence and reporting in support of security efforts. It would deliver end-to-end protection of students and administrators, enabling schools to provide anytime, anywhere, any device access to any application.

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Security is Key to Sustaining Digital Momentum in K–12

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