Email safety in education: 6 tips for IT professionals
Schools and IT security are like spaceships and ground control: education is all about people going where they never went before, allowing them to find their place in the universe by sharing information, knowledge and experiences. IT is there to make sure they can, easily and without worry.
This makes IT professionals the unsung heroes of our education system. And your job, more often than not, is a difficult one.
“Houston, we have 26,000 problems”
Working at any type of school, you’re surrounded by people who are eager to explore, unaware of the many dangers that are often just a mouse click away. Recently, a Florida school saw hackers publish 26,000 stolen files, with students’ social security numbers becoming available to anyone seeking a career in cybercrime.
Unfortunately, the example above is one of many, as schools are a perfect target for cybercriminals. As an IT specialist, your vigilance is often the one thing protecting teachers and students from phishing attempts, identity theft and whatnot. A data leak of any size is like ground control telling its astronauts a bunch of aliens took control of their spaceship.
So here’s 6 important ways to prevent that from ever happening to you:
1. Be proactive
Knowing is half the battle. Make sure you’re up to speed on the latest developments in the field of data security. What cybercriminals lack in morals, they make up for in creativity, so it’s up to you to know how they operate and what you can do to stay ahead in the game. If you’re too busy to do the research yourself, you’re welcome to sign up for our free newsletter and be sure you’re always the first to know the latest.
2. Become the teacher
To know your enemy is to beat your enemy. This applies to you as much as it does to teachers, staff, students and anyone in your organisation who ever uses a computer. Tell everyone about the importance of best practices, such as creating strong passwords and regularly updating them, or what (not) to do when receiving suspicious emails. As an IT specialist, you can probably recite best practices in your sleep. Make sure everybody else can too.
3. Use zero knowledge end-to-end encryption
Knowledge should flow freely at a school. Data not so much, and data is something any school has a lot of… from someone’s exam results to their ethnicity or medical history. It’s hardly surprising schools are so often the hacker’s target of choice.
To ensure people in your organisation can send data to each other securely, zero knowledge end-to-end encryption is essential. This way sensitive data is visible only to authorised recipients. Additionally, realtime control over emails and their attachments, allowing people to correct any mistakes after the fact, go a very long way in preventing data leaks.
4. Stay ahead of human error
A job in education is almost always a busy one. Safety might therefore not always rank as highly on people’s priority lists as it should. When you talk to a teacher on a Friday afternoon, their mind full of a week’s worth of teaching, does this person strike you as someone who always doublechecks their email before clicking send?
A shocking 66% of data leaks is the result of human error. As an IT specialist, it’s impossible for you to look over your colleague’s shoulders every time they send an email, so make sure you use the latest technology to help you out. We recommend an email solution that uses the latest in machine learning, prompting end users whenever they’re about to send an email with sensitive information to doublecheck their efforts.
5. It’s always nice to see a friendly (inter-)face
Software that helps secure data is one thing, but an equally important consideration is that of user-friendliness. The easier a safety feature is to use, the safer it will prove to be. That’s why we recommend using a solution that neatly integrates into your current emailing environment. This allows everyone in your domain to protect their data, without needing extra education on how the internet actually works.
Put bluntly, an IT solution not everybody can understand is a bug, not a solution.
6. Improve the way you receive files
Passports, diplomas, certificates... Any school is a hive of confidential information. Data isn’t just sent to and from each other, it’s also stored. In order for you not to worry with each upload, we recommend you reap the benefits of a dedicated upload portal. This allows teachers, students and even parents alike to share important data, safely and swiftly.
Ensuring safe email practices in your organisation is a hefty responsibility. Yet it’s your effort that empowers people to freely discover the world and their place in it. In other words: flight is only possible on account of ground control, which is why we would love to help you enable future generations to take off.
Want to know more about what you can do to make data security easy and effective? Simply click on the link below to get our free whitepaper on how to choose an email solution that fits your needs!