This is a summary of an article written for Education IT Reporter by Renee Tarun, Deputy CISO at Fortinet. The entire article can be accessed here.
Like many organizations, colleges and universities globally are feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as students, professors, and administrators alike adjust to their new normal: remote learning. As many four-year universities are forced to shift instruction to a mostly—or entirely—digital model, it is estimated that 70% of students are engaging in some form of online education.
With such a significant shift in education systems that have been well-established for many years, these academic institutions are confronted with a steep, unforeseen learning curve. Not only do they have to build a new curriculum that can be supported by this online format, but they’ve also had to rapidly rework their network infrastructure to support a large number of remote faculty and students, all of which require simple, seamless, and secure access to critical resources.
While educational institutions have been a key target for cyber criminals for many years, remote learning only introduces new risks and creates new opportunities for bad actors to enter the network and gain access to sensitive and critical information.
With an influx of remote users connecting to the core network, cyber adversaries are increasingly taking advantage of the vulnerable devices and home networks often associated with remote connectivity. In fact, the recent FortiGuard Labs Threat Landscape Report reveals a significant increase in cyber attacks targeting consumer-grade routers and personal IoT devices, among other components connected to home networks, during the first half of 2020.
To secure remote learning and ensure a safe, effective e-learning environment for staff and students alike, there are some critical steps that colleges and universities alike must take. These include:
Beyond robust security solutions, students, staff, and faculty must be familiar with basic cybersecurity practices to ensure good security posture. Cybersecurity education courses should become a staple in syllabi this year. A few key basics include:
As the coronavirus pandemic upends the way students learn and professors teach, cybersecurity must remain top-of-mind. Academic institutions must implement the right security solutions to ensure a secure, high-performing network infrastructure, while also arming students, faculty, and staff with cybersecurity training to fill any security gaps.
With these techniques, universities and colleges worldwide can support secure remote learning long-term.
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