In this rapidly evolving digital era, we're becoming more and more reliant on digital technology and including it in our daily life routine.
Internet is one amongst them. Almost nine out of ten use the Internet every day, either on smartphones, tablets, or mobiles. Undoubtedly, the internet has a lot to offer, and we're embracing this new technology whole-heartedly.
But we cannot deny the fact that it is hazardous as well. There are organized troops of cyber-criminals, who are also adapting how they operate and harm Internet users, obviously for their benefit. Cybercrime now makes up nearly half of all recorded crimes. It can affect everyone, regardless of age, gender, employment or location. As per a research study, there's a doubling in cybercrime over the past five years and known to all that cybercriminals are quick to take advantage of an evolving situation.
We have already given you some tips and ideas to protect your child from cybercrimes in our previous posts. In this post, we outline the different steps of cybersecurity that you must to consider to safeguard your institution from cyber threats.
Being aware of cyber threats is the need of the hour. Your primary work should be to raise awareness. Ensure that young children know the basics of online safety; after all, they are at a high-risk level, especially during remote teaching. They often do not assess whether the website they're visiting is reliable or not; they access several online games and videos that define computer terms (e.g., cyberbullying, netiquette, virus protection) and may make them a cyber-victim. Therefore, it is essential to keep them informed and teach them to accept the "new reality". Also, provide cybersecurity awareness training, so they don't fall for phishing attacks, visit compromised websites, access malicious links, etc.
Keep an eye on digital space safety
Next, institutions must make a plan and have a clear idea of their goals. They must clearly indicate whether they want students to have unrestricted access to social media or a structured approach. Institutions must also decide how much they want to monitor online activities and what digital resources students should use.
To enhance security, institutions must protect their computers by updating security software regularly. It can protect the entire institutions against scammers, hackers, and other online threats that can compromise your computer system and, consequently, financial security and other private information, as school systems have loads of data stored.
Converse with students
Developing a clear vision for students' digital lives is crucial; you should communicate with students directly. Hold a discussion or provide them with videos that talk about your plan. In videos, you prefer to put forward your concerns in the best way and educate students about the challenges the internet holds; teach them how to navigate the digital world safely. Also, listen to their ideas and goals so that you can work together to revise your plan as needed.
It is also vital for online safety to tell your students to use unique and different passwords for each online account to help prevent others from accessing their personal information. Besides, make sure that you monitor each account and ensure your children know that strong passwords should include elements like symbols, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and no names or words that others could easily guess. Also, explain to them what private information's should be made public.
Collect information about digital risks
It's also essential to take the time to learn more about the different threats' students may face online. Look for resources that can help you with the "if and buts" of the online world and teach you how to stay safe online.
According to a report, cyber-attacks—especially ransomware—have increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic across all sectors. K-12 educational institutions are particularly vulnerable targets for an attacker. Apart from malware, educational institutions were also at increased risk of data breaches and student data privacy violations. In spring, "Zoom bombing" became part of the general lexicon after pranksters and ill-intentioned individuals began to break into private zoom meetings. Several incidents of online classrooms being interrupted by users making lewd comments or streaming pornography were reported.
Thus, knowing potential cyber threats and solutions to safeguard students is crucial.
Work in partnership
It is essential to work in partnership with school staff and the community to develop holistic policies that reflect the teaching and learning practices, strategies, and technologies teachers and students use. You should create clear processes and practices to manage classroom and online behaviour and respond to incidents. Develop study plans that explicitly teach safe, responsible and ethical online behaviour.
Practice principle of least privilege
According to several reports, insider threats are increasing every year because there is mismanagement of user access to the network; and 70% of the insider attacks remain unreported. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the "principle of the slightest privilege". The main advantage of applying this principle is that it reduces the risk of an insider accessing data through an unauthorized network. This would reduce the amount of information that can be compromised. Also, using the intrusion detection system (IDS), an abnormal activity can be detected quickly.
Review the institution's cybersecurity tools
It is important to review your cybersecurity tools for better safety of your network and its data and, if required, pick the most suitable tools that can help you in complying with the regulatory obligations and mitigate risks. Furthermore, you can refer to an audit report to consider the right tool.
Seek Assistance From Organizations
Communicate and collaborate with organizations; most of them are treasure troves of ideas and resources. For help, you could contact local organizations and state agencies that conduct researches and organizes events to develop and share new ways to protect students online and spread awareness about digital safety and citizenship. You could also reach out to other schools or professional learning communities to find more resources to use or browse through blogs that specifically discuss digital citizenship and internet safety.
Besides all, it is important to listen to the young students who either get into a trap or are cyber-crime victims. It is reported that they think no one would listen to their concerns, and no one would take on their side. So, please stay in contact with your learners, aware of them, congratulate them and yourself, and initiate this first important step to secure their emotional and social well-being.
Here are a few resources that could support schools and colleges
- Be Internet Legends
- Disrespect Nobody
- Education for a connected world framework
- PSHE association
- Teaching online safety in school
- UK Safer Internet Centre