Is Your School Wi-Fi Network Ready for a Data Breach? 4 Tips to Prepare

As security is an ever-growing concern when it comes to using technology in the classroom today, it must evolve to keep up with threats, while remaining as user-friendly as possible. However, while wireless network security tools are increasing in effectiveness so too are the potential data risks.

Threats to your school's network are becoming more complex, and more abundant thanks to the increasing amount of mobile devices and other connected gateways hackers look to exploit. 

Regardless of all of the technology and products designed to help IT departments stop security breaches, we continue to hear of stories where large companies, including those in education, are suffering from major data hacks.

From health data, personal security information, financial data, and student information, school wi-fi networks possess extremely large amounts of sensitive data that needs to be protected at all costs. How can our schools protect themselves?

The implementation of both network access controls, mobile device management solutions and addressing basic IT risk mitigation best practices have not changed (and are still important), yet the motivation behind the breach is now the differentiating factor.

Unauthorized access to the sensitive data held by schools and how to manage that risk should be a major concern.

Suggested Reading - "11 Features Every Secure Wireless Network Should Have"

Rather than replacing security features, you are now addressing insufficiencies and adding to your existing network security infrastructure to meet the changing and increased threats to your network and its data.

It's become more about proper risk management and being proactive instead of waiting for something to happen and then scrambling to fix it.

To help you organize your risk management strategy to decrease the potential and severity of a major data breach, we've put together four guidelines to create a better data risk management strategy.

4 Steps to Managing Data Risks
 
1. Know What and How Much Sensitive Data You Have

Maintaining a real-time, all-inclusive, inventory of your school’s sensitive data is not the easiest task.

With greater storage possibilities, such as cloud technology, it increases the chance of a breach since data is often housed with third party applications.

Suggested Reading - "5 Network Security Issues Every College Struggles With [Infographic]"

Using data loss prevention technology allows you to scan servers and other hosted data to identify all of your sensitive data.

2. Plan Specifically for Sensitive Data

Most likely you have a security plan for documents, but it may not be enough to protect your most sensitive data.

A labeling system to tier the data based on the level or privacy or sensitivity can create customized security plans for each tier. Your plans should account for laws that apply to different aspects of the data such as HIPPA for students’ health records or to FERPA for the bulk of student data.

3. Create a Response Plan In the Event of a Breach

Knowing the different responses for a confidential piece of data compared to general stored data is important.

Suggested Reading - "How to Handle a Network Security Crisis Like a Pro"

Having a plan allows you to know what steps to take in the event of a breach from how to prevent such breaches in the future to how to notify the faculty, students, and their families (any affected party) of the breach.

This will save you time and added frustration in dealing with such events.

4. Communicate Procedures and Expectations to Everyone Involved

Often internal users are the reason for sensitive data hacks, some being intentional, while often most are not.

If you communicate proper procedures and expectations about how to handle data and the importance of its security than everyone can make better decisions and understand what's safe and what could potentially put everyone at risk.

There are tools that such as DLP that can aid in preventing accidental and intentional breaches however, clear communication of specific security do's and don'ts still go a long way.

If you have any questions about how to guarantee your student's data is safe or what network security tools your school needs to prevent a possible breach please contact us here!

Palo Alto Networks; Next Generation Firewall, enterprise wireless security, wifi service providers,
Jillian Mourning

Jillian Mourning

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