Cybersecurity is not talked about as much as it should. To this day, thousands of institutions suffer from data breaches. In 2021, alone, there were 1,862 recorded data breaches by the Identity Theft Resource Center. While some might underestimate that number, data breaches are incredibly expensive to fix.
Running that risk is not worth ignoring. The cybersecurity in your school needs to be up-to-date to prevent personal data from getting into the wrong hands. Cybersecurity challenges are everywhere, even in digital marketing. Today, we’ll be discussing how to tackle those challenges.
Your first priority in securing your digital presence should be your communication channels. E-mails and instant messaging platforms are widely used launchpads for malware attacks. Ensuring the safety of these channels is a must. If communications are compromised, this makes every other security concern twice as difficult.
Subtler hackers might not even hold any data for ransom. They could simply be committing corporate sabotage. For example, they start approving marketing plans without the knowledge of the admin. Other times, they might even just slowly extort money out of your school’s staff through scams.
Phishing scams are still incredibly common. This is because of their simplicity and practicality. Users are the most vulnerable chain in your digital security link. There’s no use in a strong lock if the people holding the key just leave the door open. Phishing scams get subtler every day. Here are a few bullet points to detect a phishing scam:
- Check if whoever is sending it actually exists in your school’s domain
- “Official” domains have misspellings in their e-mail (i.e. Go0gle, Micrsoft) < note to editor: do not correct in Grammarly, the misspelling is to make a point.
- Poor grammar in the text body
- Has suspicious attachments or links that the sender asks for you to click
- Attempts to scare the reader into believing it’s an urgent matter
- Asks you for money in any way
Phishing scams are so effective because users continue to be uneducated. To keep your data safe and set an example for the school, inform all your staff of these basic detection skills. Otherwise, your entire network might be one “Free Starbucks Promo” away from a horrible malware attack.
Another communication worry is hacked accounts. Once an account is compromised, hackers are already masking themselves as someone trustworthy. This is why it’s so important to have secured communications via Slack or Skype. It’s important to take note of how suspicious accounts are, especially if they haven’t revealed themselves yet. Here are a few things to be wary of:
Never Click or Download Carelessly
If somebody messaged you with an important file, always confirm that it’s safe via secondary channels. Call the person to confirm if the file is safe and ask them things only they would know. Additionally, when you download the file, scan it before opening it. Even trusted friends and colleagues might have compromised accounts they didn’t know about.
For example, they did intend to send you an important file related to a school promotion event. However, they are unaware that their computer has malware. The malware has attached itself to the file they intended to send. Scanning the file ensures that any malware attached is detected and subsequently dealt with. Inform your colleagues about the malware in case this happens.
Never Share Personal Information
Do not store any personal information on instant messaging clients. If somebody is asking you for personal information such as a social security number, do not give it over the chat app. Hacked account or not, most instant messaging clients are unencrypted by default.
Lurkers who slip past any cybersecurity defense might take advantage of such information. They do this by logging your convo and keeping it “stored” for future use. In case they want to scam you, they will threaten you with that information.
Your school’s website is the first thing many parents and students see when deciding on your school. If it’s unsafe, this will reflect incredibly poorly on your school as a whole. The same also goes for your social media pages. Smart short links, pictures, and posts on all of your sites should be as clean and safe as possible.
Your school’s online presence might be attacked in a variety of ways, like:
DDoS attacks are a simple yet incredibly effective way hackers attack your site. DDoS attacks flood your site with traffic to the point of unusability. Hackers usually do this as a form of sabotage. If users can’t access your site, then they won’t be able to see any of your school’s offerings. The danger lies in how easy it is to do, as even students are capable of doing this.
To prevent a DDoS attack, make sure you have network redundancies and firewalls in place. Redundancies allow IT teams to shift the flow of traffic somewhere else. Firewalls act as a buffer against obvious bad actors such as bots or well-known hacker domains. Firewalls immediately limit who enters your network, further stifling a DDoS attempt.
Some hackers will post explicit imagery, slightly edit logos to be vulgar, or other acts of vandalism to lower the reputation of your school. This attack significantly detracts from your marketing efforts. Vandalism is often done to mock and annoy your establishment.
t’s crucial that you do not overreact. Simply delete the post and apologize to people. Quietly investigate who caused the vandalism and shore up your security. When promoting your school, always monitor all the posts and images coming from your account.
If your website or social media messaging apps have any data, a hacker is looking to get them. Whether it’s intellectual property from a gifted student or simply personal information for scams, your accounts must be all secured from data theft.
Ensure that parents and students never share any personal information with school accounts. Your website, should it require any personal information, should be encrypted.
Thes are the core challenges you will face with cybersecurity. Prevention is always the best way to prevent lasting damage. However, the essence of cybersecurity insurance is to make sure that you’re always ready for the worst. Stay vigilant in all your digital projects to ensure safety. Contact us.