Daren Marsh: Data Security threats to schools increase

Schools lose covid testing data and pupil coursework after ‘spike’ in cyber attacks.

This is the worrying message sent to schools in the past week from the Department for Education and the National Cyber Security Centre as reported in Schools Week – full article here

We have been very aware of the increased cyber threats and have worked very hard to ensure that school life is not disrupted by these criminal activities. So far our defences have been effective against a range of threats, particularly ransomware and (sorry have to be technical) Distributed Denial of Service attacks that the NCSC and DfE are warning against, but we will never rest easy or be complacent. In the past year, the increased number and range of devices that schools have access to has brought wonderful opportunities, but also leads to more potential avenues for hackers, malware and spyware to steal, corrupt or manipulate school data.

The Schools ICT Support team are very proactive against these threats and support the ‘defence in depth’ approach for schools that the NCSC recommend. The team protect school systems with multiple lines of defence, including firewalls, anti-virus and ransomware protection on workstations, servers and home use. In the background the team manage alerting and monitoring systems that raise alarms and drives early interventions. Recent additional layers of defence have included:

  • InterceptX that provides sophisticated protection for your data and ensures schools don’t suffer ransomware attacks and lockouts,
  • Meraki Mobile Device Management and Home Protect that provide improved security and safety for the range of devices that staff and pupils take home.
  • Mail Protect and Webscreen provide email and web filtering, that is managed and configured to keep staff and children safe online. 

Following the DfE alert sent to schools, governors may want to know more about how the school is protected and in recent school data protection meetings we have shared the document linked here School cyber security questions for governors – NCSC.GOV.UK which helps governors to discuss the issues and seek assurance on meeting their responsibilities.

If you would like to know more about our ICT Support and Data Protection services, please book a Head to Head meeting.

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