24th Oct 2022

With October being Cyber Security Awareness Month, CPC thought it was an opportune time to highlight five big cyber security risks, each that can potentially cause real harm to unsuspecting institutions. 

As schools need to store a lot of private and sensitive data, it is incredibly important to have a high level of cyber security in place when using networked computers and services.  

Failing to do so can not only have a detrimental effect on a school’s reputation but also its ability to function, while such schools could face legal problems, due to their legal obligations to protect data.  

Below, we will highlight and discuss five of the most common cyber security issues, along with steps you can take at your own institution to minimise the risks.  

Phishing 

Phishing is one of the most common attacks performed by cyber criminals. This is when scammers send out an email to a lot of people, one that attempts to steal personal information.  

Things to look out for when unsure about an email include poor quality logos or images, spelling and/or grammar errors, an email not addressed to you by name or one demanding you act urgently.  

If something does not look legitimate or you fear you may have been scammed, it is important staff and students alike inform the IT team, so potential damage can be minimised.  

Insecure passwords 

Using a weak password or using the same one for many accounts can cause them to be ineffective. 

To avoid hackers or cyber criminals gaining access to devices and accounts it is important that you choose passwords that cannot be easily guessed by others, perhaps using the name of your partner, your child or pet, your favourite sports team, or a list of numbers.   

It is advised to always use two-factor authentication for sensitive accounts and lock your account when you are not using it.  

Virus spreading  

Using USBs and pen drives can be useful when transferring data across multiple devices. However, this can also lead to harmful viruses spreading from computer to computer and network to network. 

To avoid this, try and email documents or store them on an online storage provider, where possible.  

If you must use USBs or pen drives, ensure you are only using ones that are provided by your school and make sure they are password protected.   

Working from home 

Accessing data at home also poses a threat to your school’s cyber security.  

Since you are still responsible for protecting data whilst working from home, it is important that you have up to date antivirus software installed on your home devices.  

You should also ensure that they are secured with strong passwords, two-factor authentication and you have downloaded all available software updates. 

Social media 

A huge part of today’s modern world, social media can also pose cyber security risks, particularly for young people, as they often share personal information on the internet without realising the impact.  

To minimise the threat of criminal activity, you should restrict what can be seen on your social media profiles by changing your settings to ‘private’.  

You can reduce the risk of criminal behaviour by being sensible with what you share online and who you share it with; sharing your address or announcing you are going on holiday can attract criminal behaviour and accepting ‘friends’ you do not know can make you a target for fake accounts.  

Here are five simple steps to stay cyber secure: 

  1. Ensure all software updates have been installed.
  2. Always lock your device or screen when it is not being used.
  3. Only download applications from official app stores.
  4. Don’t share any accounts with others.
  5. Create a culture of questioning and always ask if something seems illegitimate.

Managed IT support services for cyber security are available through the CPC Multifunctional Devices and Digital Transformation Solutions framework, click to find out more.