Don’t wait to secure your endpoints from cyberattacks

As we enter a new school year, among the myriad things that instructors and administrators need to be concerned about, ransomware remains high on the list. According to the K-12 Security Information Exchange, there were 166 publicly disclosed cyber incidents affecting 162 school districts across 38 states during the 2021 calendar year.

The rise of remote learning and the use of more devices comes with a price – more endpoints mean more opportunities for potential exploitation. This isn’t a new refrain, but we continue to see challenges facing endpoint security. Cyberattacks against schools can result in closures, not to mention high and unbudgeted remediation and recovery costs.

School districts are already grappling with one of the hardest missions out there – educating our youth – and having to worry about a potential data breach can’t take away from this. Fortunately, in this situation, knowledge is power. Understanding the potential risks that your endpoints face is key to knowing what needs to happen to mitigate these risks and keep your information and systems safe.

A proliferation of endpoints

Any device or application connected to your network is an endpoint. And the more technologically connected school districts become, the more endpoints there are. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of easily exploited endpoint devices connected to the networks was rapidly growing. Since then, the number has continued to increase as districts enabled remote learning and work options.

Do your teachers have tablet computers or iPads they use in the classroom and sometimes take off-site? Those are endpoints. Does your district allow teachers and staff to connect to the network using their personal devices? More endpoints.

Bob Turner, Field CISO for Education, Fortinet

Bob Turner has years of experience as a higher education executive, board member, and thought leader with a focus on cybersecurity strategy and leadership, information assurance and business continuity planning, and information technology management. At Fortinet, he is the CISO for K-12 and higher education acting as a senior level strategic business and technical advisor for the cybersecurity community and business executives. Previously, Turner was a cybersecurity executive and Director of the Office of Cybersecurity reporting to the Chief Information Officer/Vice Provost for Information Technology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. There, he built a cybersecurity team of 60+ cybersecurity experts delivering all cybersecurity services as well as improved university IT policy development by working with distributed IT and faculty governance groups to ensure cohesive approach to IT policy, governance, audit, and cybersecurity operations.

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