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Safeguarding Schools From Cybercrime: The Importance of a Backup Plan

As schools prepare for a new academic year, they must also prepare to face new cybersecurity threats. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in cyberattacks, and the education sector is not immune. While the shift to hybrid learning has enabled greater flexibility and access to education, it has also created new vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. 

Last year, 29% of K-12 school and district members in the Information Sharing and Analysis Center reported being victims of a cyber incident. This is particularly concerning given schools’ increasing reliance on technology to streamline learning experiences and administrative tasks.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of cybersecurity in schools; why it’s critical for educational institutes to take proactive measures to protect their networks and data to ensure the safety, security, and availability of their systems; and how AvePoint can help.  

The Cybercrime Challenge in Education  

Cybercrime is one of the biggest challenges facing schools today, and there are many reasons why. The rapid digitalization of classrooms due to COVID-19 has created new vulnerabilities and expanded the attack surface for cybercriminals. The open-network nature of schools, necessary for educational purposes, also makes them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

What’s more, students are often untrained and more susceptible to falling for phishing attacks or other forms of social engineering, and schools often lack strong defenses against these attacks. This results in attackers having easy access to sensitive data and systems.   

In combination, these factors make schools an attractive target for cybercriminals seeking to exploit system vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive data, and the consequences of an attack can be dire.  

A report from the US Government Accountability Office found that the harm cyberattacks cause can be detrimental, from loss of resources to downtime as schools work to recover from incidents. State and local officials reported that the loss of learning following a cyberattack ranged from 3 days to 3 weeks, and recovery time ranged from 2 to 9 months. 

In addition to the operational disruptions caused by a cyber incident, there can also be a significant financial impact on schools. Reports from officials indicate that school districts have suffered monetary losses ranging from $50,000 to $1 million due to expenses related to cyber incidents. These costs can include replacing damaged computer hardware, as well as upgrading cybersecurity measures to prevent future attacks. Given the already tight budgets that many schools operate on, these costs can be debilitating and have a ripple effect on other areas of the school’s operations. 

In light of these challenges, schools need to prioritize cybersecurity and implement strong defenses against cybercrime. With the right tools and a proactive approach to cybersecurity, schools can protect their critical data and avoid the costly consequences of a cyberattack. 

Are you ransomware ready? Get our guide to make sure you’re prepared. 

Ransomware Readiness Checklist ebook

Combatting Cyberattacks in Schools  

The Biden administration has recently released new guidance for schools that includes best practices for safeguarding their networks, systems, and data from potential attacks. These proactive strategies include implementing multi-factor authentication, regularly updating software and hardware, and providing cybersecurity training to staff and students. 

Although taking proactive measures is crucial in protecting against cyber threats, it’s important to understand that there is no foolproof defense against cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are always devising new ways to target schools, and it’s nearly impossible to predict what tactics they’ll employ next. That’s why having a backup plan is essential.  

41% of cyberattacks using phishing to gain access to systems, according to IBM. 

If hackers manage to break through your proactive defenses, a backup and recovery solution ensures that data is easily recoverable without having to pay a ransom to the attacker. Some providers even offer self-service recoveries, allowing individuals to restore the files or folders they need rather than waiting to restore their entire system. 

Overall, backup solutions play a critical role in helping schools protect themselves against ransomware attacks. With a robust backup and recovery solution, schools can quickly recover from cyber incidents and avoid the downtime and monetary losses associated with data loss. 

How AvePoint’s Advanced Backup Can Help Bolster Schools’ Defenses   

AvePoint’s Enterprise Cloud Backup offers advanced backup and recovery solutions that can help schools protect their critical data in Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and more against ransomware attacks. With automatic backups performed every six hours and customer-owned encryption keys adding an extra layer of security, schools can rest assured that their data is safe and secure.  

AvePoint Cloud Backup also offers flexible restore options that can put data back in place, out of place, or exported to an offline location. This feature can be a game-changer for schools facing a ransom payment as they would no longer need to pay a fee to retrieve their data.  

For example, Crete-Monee School District in Illinois, which was previously a victim of a ransomware attack, now has a comprehensive backup and point-in-time and bulk restores solution in place with Cloud Backup. This gives the school protection against malware or BitLocker-type attacks and peace of mind knowing that they can easily restore any document at any point in time, even in bulk. 

“It eliminates our concerns around cybercrime. I am hoping that the solution will help us save money on our cyber insurance this year because of how easy it is to restore at any point in time.” 

-Eric Bertram, Director of Technology, Crete-Monee School District 

And now, with Cloud Backup’s latest addition to Google Workspace protection, even your Google Classroom can be protected. With how easy it is to lose data in Classrooms, this is a critical feature to ensure you never lose your data – including all announcements, people, grades, classwork, and more.  

Screenshot of dashboard for Cloud Backup for Google Workspace

AvePoint’s Cloud Backup can even provide ransomware detection capabilities to help schools identify early warning signals by detecting anomalies and encryption. This proactive ransomware detection feature can detect unusual activity and provide detailed reports to help schools quickly investigate and flag potential areas of concern. Throughout, Cloud Backup has easy-to-follow guides that help suggest the best time range for restores, ensuring a faster and more precise recovery of backup data.

Final Thoughts

As schools continue to rely more and more on technology, the risk of cyber threats continues to grow. The worst defense against these attacks is no defense at all. Instead, schools must be proactive and take steps to ensure the safety and security of their networks and data.

In addition to other cybersecurity measures, schools must have a powerful backup and recovery solution in place to ensure that data is always accessible and restorable in case of a worst-case scenario. With Cloud Backup’s advanced backup and recovery capabilities, schools can quickly restore their compromised data and resume operations, no matter the data loss situation, offering peace of mind.

By taking proactive measures and implementing the right solutions, schools can protect themselves from cyber threats and ensure the safety and security of their systems.

Don’t wait for a worst-case scenario to occur! Discover how Cloud Backup for Google Workspace can help your school recover from cyberattacks and keep your data safe and secure against future threats.

Cloud Backup for Google Workspace free trial

Kayla Haskins
Kayla Haskins
Kayla Haskins is a Content Marketing Manager at AvePoint, writing about all things cloud collaboration – including Power Platform, Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Salesforce. An advocate of operational governance and process automation, Kayla creates content that helps businesses manage technology to drive efficiencies in the modern workplace and make work/life balance a reality.

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