3 Cybersecurity Teachings to Make Your School Cyber Safe

Some students have already returned to the classroom. Over the next few weeks, the halls of schools around the country will be filled with the sounds of laughter and chaos as the rest of students return. To prepare for the new school year, school districts have been working hard to have in place everything from the right technology to the right staff. But there are three back-to-school goals every school should have in order to ensure cyber safety and peace of mind for students, staff, and parents.

Improve School Cybersecurity

According to The State of Ransomware in Education 2022 report from Sophos,

  • Ransomware attacks on (K-12) education have increased 56%
  • K-12 schools struggle to thwart ransomware attacks, with 72% of attacks being successful
  • 45% of K-12 schools that have experienced an attack paid the ransom to retrieve their encrypted data, with a very small percentage of them actually getting back the entirety of their data.
  • K-12 schools spent $1.58 million on ransoms and data recovery last year

Take Action: In order to know where you need to make improvements to your cybersecurity strategy, you need to know where your weaknesses are. That’s why Lumen™ Touch is offering a cybersecurity audit service for schools: Bright LITE. Our customized service offering provides individuals and organizations with the necessary information and education to efficiently evaluate both the risks and opportunities they face.  Download the Bright LITE brochure (PDF)

Protect Student Data

Every year, districts choose new technology solutions that will help deliver the right curriculum to their students. With those choices come concerns about rostering student data multiple times to a variety of different vendors. It can be cost- and time-prohibitive to vet each vendor.

Take Action: Bright PASSPORT governs how schools share personally identifiable information (PII), such as student roster data. Rather than allow teachers or school districts to implement apps for their classrooms as they see fit, thereby increasing cyber risk in the schools, Bright PASSPORT provides districts with a library of approved apps that have been properly vetted to meet the required security standards. Partner with Lumen Touch to meet your student data privacy needs.

Become a Smart, Connected District

smart, connected school district requires:

A comprehensive school management tool that includes:

  • Online registration
  • Attendance
  • Discipline
  • Nutrition services
  • Health and wellness
  • Truancy
  • Transportation
  • Fees, fines, and point of sale

A secure database with built-in backup and recovery

A comprehensive teaching and learning system that includes:

  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Scheduling
  • Grade reports and transcripts
  • Learning management system
  • After-school programs
  • Diploma tracking

Real-time reporting:

  • Any data, anywhere
  • State reporting
  • Customized reports
  • Real-time goal tracking

Communication tools:

  • Customized user portals
  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • Personalized content

Comprehensive support, including train the trainer

Take Action: Lumen Touch Bright SUITE® provides districts with everything they need to deliver a better educational experience from start to finish. A one-stop-shop for schools, Bright SUITE incorporates everything a district needs, from a learning management system to student information systems to health-and-safety monitoring and reporting. With distinctive modules for special education, a full edtech solution library, and modules for teacher professional development, Bright SUITE is an all-in-one enterprise management solution that not only allows districts to save money, but it also creates a secure and connected school district with real-time data that lets educators make the best decisions for all students. Learn more.

EdTech and Security Risks

Vulnerabilities and risks are inherent in all technologies. And while the increasing use of tech in the education sphere is a huge benefit for all, it isn’t without its share of issues.

Apps and IT

Many of the apps that are used by students and teachers to access their school information may not be properly vetted or controlled by district IT departments. That may leave doors open for criminal activity. A student or staff member may log into an account from multiple devices, or login at a coffee shop or on an unsecure network. Those instances in themselves are risks to data, but they also force us to pose the question of what to do about so-called shadow apps that are accessing the networks. 

The answer is Lumen Touch.

Lumen Touch software runs on a Linux operating system that is remotely managed by Lumen Touch. We maintain the updates and configurations of all services. We follow industry best practices for the services provided. Isolation of risk and standardization are core principals we use when determining the design and configurations of our services. We work under the assumption that all networks are potentially hostile. This includes other servers in the local network and clients’ servers across the web. 

Criminal Activity and EdTech

Schools have become the second-most sought-after organizations for cyberattacks. The demand on school IT departments to manage school technology has nearly doubled from five years ago. Networks, devices, and apps all require extensive management and monitoring, and the complexities in doing so are growing. Ransomware is an emergent and easy way for criminals to gain access to schools, especially when many people are using many different network devices. In addition, there have been state and federal responses to cyberattacks in schools, due to the nature of the information they collect – information that could have a large negative impact on students and their families. Phishing schemes are a common vulnerability in schools. When students or staff members click on suspicious links, they are opening their system to risks.

Lumen Touch hosting employs full-disk encryption and a server image created from scratch by Lumen Touch. This allows us to have full end-to-end encryption of client data, both in transit and at rest. Lumen Touch also manages backups and disaster recovery for you. Whether we host your site, or even if you have a server on-site, we perform daily encrypted backups that are stored off-site in another region of the United States. This gives us the flexibility to handle data restores for your site in the event of user error or catastrophic hardware failure. These restores can occur on your existing site, if applicable, or placed into a Lumen Touch hosted site.

Managing the risks associated with EdTech is a must for school districts. Lumen Touch is committed to ensuring student data security by providing remote monitoring of your site 24/7/365. On average, we track 160 data points per site that help us identify potential issues before they affect clients.

EdTech is the future of education, but technology without responsibility is dangerous. Lumen Touch considers student safety and data security with everything we do. At Lumen Touch, we are proud of our team that is driving excellence in education. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help support your school! Get in touch.

Growing Security Threats – EdTech Has a BRIGHT Future

Does the heart of a parent or teacher skip a beat when they hear that another school has been hacked? Their immediate thoughts are probably “I hope this doesn’t happen to my school.” But if it does, what can they do? Do board members and superintendents not lay awake at night wondering if their districts are protected from hacking and ransomware, and what the cost would be if their districts or schools became victims of extortion? Do school administrators concern themselves with their liabilities associated with student privacy, FERPA, HIPPA and much, much more?

The pressure that comes with protecting student management and information systems, maintaining compliance with state and federal laws, and delivering sophisticated integrated technologies to teachers and classrooms – all without breaking the budget – is enormous. It’s a difficult challenge, made more difficult by constant physical and digital security threats, unfunded mandates by state and local governments, and in many cases a shortage of IT support.

Schools Are Being Targeted by Hackers

Most schools are already using a variety of EdTech solutions that enhance educational programs, provide communications to their stakeholders; manage food services and bus routes; support students with special needs; provide data analytics; maintain data for audits; or help to manage buildings, libraries, student clinics, and school cafeterias. But when more than 500 schools have experienced targeted ransomware attacks in 2019 alone, the underlying security of any EdTech solution introduced to a school district must be a top consideration.

The social responsibility for managing technology in the education space is already overwhelming and will become more so with the advent of artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, and the increased onslaught of cyber-attacks. This all equates to escalating costs to keep the demons out! The threat has become so significant that last year, the FBI issued a warning about the growing threat to schools.

The Daunting Task Before School Administrators

There is no turning back from this digital frontier; so how do you continue to deliver top-quality education and effectively provide student and data security, streamline workflow for overworked teachers and administrators, while also fostering community support with strong security and fiscal responsibility?

So, What Keeps the CEO of Lumen Touch and His Team Awake at Night?

“The last thing I ever want to hear is that one of our school partners have had a tragedy of some kind with one of their students, families, or staff members,” said Dr John Vandewalle, CEO. “The next thing that I loathe to hear is that their technology or data has been compromised in some way!”

How Do We Manage Effective School and Data Security?

We maintain updates and configurations for all of our services, keeping with industry best practices. Isolation of risk and standardization are core principals we use when determining the design and configurations of our services, and rather than react to existing threats, we work under the assumption that all networks are potentially hostile, including other servers in the local network and clients across the web. With this assumption in mind, we have explicitly banned the use of defaulted trust between services. All systems have access rules and firewalls enforced.

We have migrated to a fluid system of interoperability that allows for sharing of data across platforms and vendors while creating technological engines for automated data integration. This allows us to meet the standards of Ed-Fi, IMS Global, CoSN, and other organizations that create these standards. We are also able to distribute data across platforms in a just-in-time manner that provides instant communication and dashboards to all stakeholders, from board members to students and their families, on the technology of their choice.

Support Overworked Teachers and Administrators

Lumen Touch is dedicated to helping schools and districts transform how they deliver education, support teachers, and manage their schools, using EdTech that is not only comprehensive but extremely secure. Our all-in-one solution delivers remedies for everything a school district requires. Watch for our next blog, when we will discuss streamlining workflow and guarding against workplace dissatisfaction and teacher turnover.

Fiscal Responsibility – Save Your District Time and Money

Schools that implement Lumen Touch experience an average savings of 30% to 60%, which is realized from the time of engagement. In addition, Lumen Touch eases the aggravation that may result from negotiating with multiple vendors and removes the need for telecom contracts, carriers, and fees.

If meeting EdTech mandates has overwhelmed your school and district, let Lumen Touch demonstrate how we can free you up to focus on what’s really important: educating students and creating the leaders of the future.  Email us at sales@lumentouch.com, call us at 816.880.0066, or visit www.lumentouch.com.