March 01, 2023
2 Min Read
It is probably rare for a student to enjoy a pop quiz. Those tests, after all, are designed to catch them off-guard. But when it comes to protecting data, pop quizzes come all the time in the form of emerging cyber threats. In cybersecurity, threat actors are regularly testing the cyber resilience capabilities of colleges and school districts. This is proven by the fact that 87% of educational establishments have experienced at least one successful cyberattack.
For the education industry, data privacy cannot receive a failing grade. Organizations with access to student data are responsible for keeping that data secure. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted in 1974 to govern access to student records. Any educational agency or institution that receives funds from the U.S. Department of Education must comply with the law. While it does not mandate specific cybersecurity controls, schools are expected to take steps to safeguard student information.
Failing to do so can potentially have serious consequences—not only for the institution but for the student whose data may be stolen or misused. With that in mind, organizations must implement a cybersecurity strategy to protect access to personal information. In our mini-report for the education industry, we discuss the security concerns that are central to complying with FERPA and demonstrate a commitment to maintaining data privacy.
Implementing the level of security needed, requires having an approach that touches several areas, including access controls, asset inventory, and data protection. You have to know where sensitive data is and what devices you have in order to protect them. Every endpoint represents a possible entry point that, if left unsecured, could allow a threat actor to compromise your network and sensitive data.
A glance at news headlines from 2022 will show that threat landscape for educational institutions is not shrinking. Attack vectors can appear in many forms, from phishing to ransomware to unpatched systems that leave vulnerabilities open for attackers to exploit. The larger the attack surface educational institutions have to protect, the more crucial it is to have a comprehensive security strategy that promotes cyber resilience. As attackers continue to target school systems and their sensitive data, FERPA compliance provides an added reason to focus on securing network access, protecting endpoints, and making security applications resilient to attempts of tampering to prevent critical information from being accessed and breached.
To read more about FERPA compliance and cybersecurity, download our mini-report focused on the education sector here. For a general look at compliance and cybersecurity and how organizations can take a risk-based approach to compliance, download our main report.
Share this article