As we talked about last week, technology has been integrated into the educational world in many ways — enough ways that education has become a target of cyberattacks. According to k12cybersecure.com, from January 2016-July 2021, there have been 1,180 attacks on K-12 schools alone. This doesn’t take into consideration colleges and universities, online universities, or other institutions of higher education of any kind.
So why is education getting hit so hard? Educational institutions tend to be somewhat of an easy target. Colleges and universities must cater to a wide range of users—on-campus students, online students, researchers, faculty, staff—which can make cybersecurity an overwhelming job. They also utilize technology in so many ways that it’s difficult for the average techie to secure it all. Just think: online curricula, online standardized testing, a university-wide email system, a completely digitized records system, and more. It’s a lot to keep safe and a big target for criminals.
For K-12 schools, the problem is different. In 2020, K-12 schools were thrown into a tailspin when they were forced to switch from a traditional classroom setting to a completely online environment. In most schools, this was accompanied by no increase in budget or technical expertise, leading to subpar tech and security—and an easy target for attackers.
Technology has allowed education to be more accessible, impactful, and flexible. But wherever technology is needed most, there will always be incentive for criminals to attack. So, in a time when education is becoming more dependent on the online world, we must protect schools and universities more than ever.