National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is recognized each October, highlighting the importance of cybersecurity in today’s interconnected world. While cybersecurity is essential for all sectors, education is an attractive target for cybercriminals due to the wealth of sensitive data like student records and financial information. As technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in teaching and learning, safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring privacy is critical.
One important piece of the security puzzle is ensuring staff awareness and providing them with ongoing training. The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) has used this month as an opportunity to remind its staff about staying vigilant at work and at home, informing them of the latest threats and how to respond. Staff members regularly complete mandatory security training already, but they’ve also been receiving supplemental information throughout October. In addition, an informal competition has been taking place, helping staff recognize—and avoid—simulated threats.
In addition to common sense steps like keeping software up to date, using strong passwords, and avoiding sending sensitive information through unencrypted services like email, here are several tips that are relevant to all educators:
- Learn to recognize email phishing attacks and be prepared to report them to the appropriate people at your agency
- Turn on multi-factor/two-factor authentication whenever possible and watch out for authentication scams
- Avoid oversharing personal information online
- Use strong passwords and a password manager
- Watch for scams such as income tax filing fraud, fake open enrollment registration messages, QR codes in emails, and other social engineering tricks used by cybercriminals
Robust security measures are essential—for education professionals and in everyday life. Embracing cybersecurity best practices and continuously learning about potential security threats makes for a safer and more resilient online experience.