18 Ways To Improve Cybersecurity At College

By Hardik Savani March 20, 2021 Category : Guest Post

If you think that fraudsters are only interested in hacking giant corporations and profitable businesses, you have no idea how wrong you are. Cyberattacks are not only possible in TV shows like The Good Doctor, where attackers demanded several million dollars for the security of hospital data and equipment.

The information security system of an educational institution must not only ensure the safety of databases and the confidential information they contain but also guarantee that any propaganda, whether illegal or of harmless nature, which is supposed to influence the minds of students, cannot gain access to the college walls. According to the cyber crime research topics, the following types of information are the most susceptible to attack:

  • personal information concerning students and teachers, digitalized records;

  • the intellectual property of the educational process, which is protected by law;

  • structured learning information that supports the educational process (libraries, databases, training programs).

All of this information can not only be stolen. Deliberate intrusion into them can disrupt the integrity of the digitalized books, destroy repositories of knowledge, and alter the code of the programs used for training.

Threats to Information Security

The threat is characterized not only by the possibility of information theft or damage to datasets by some deliberately acting hacker groups but also by the activity of youths who can deliberately, maliciously, or mistakenly damage computer equipment or introduce a virus. There are four groups of objects that can be intentionally or unintentionally impacted:

  • Computer equipment and other hardware that can be damaged by mechanical impact, viruses, or other causes;

  • Programs used to maintain the system or educational process that could be damaged by viruses or hacker attacks;

  • Data stored both on hard disks and on separate carriers;

  • The staff themselves, who are responsible for the operability of IT systems;

  • Students who are subject to external aggressive information influence and are capable of creating a criminal situation in the college. Recently, the list of such situations has significantly expanded, which indicates a possible targeted psychological attack on the minds of students.

Threats aimed at damaging any of the system components can be either accidental or deliberate. Threats independent of the intent of personnel, students, or third parties include:

  • any emergencies, such as a power outage or flooding;

  • personnel errors;

  • software malfunctions;

  • equipment failure;

  • problems with communication systems.

All of these threats to information security are temporary, predictable, and easily resolved by the actions of employees and special services.

Ways to improve cybersecurity at college

  1. Analyze and make a list of the college's most vulnerable technologies and locations and minimize risks;

  2. Use only licensed software and test it for vulnerabilities and bugs;

  3. Conduct lectures with students on cybersecurity awareness. Provide training on how to recognize threats, attacks, and how to act when threats occur;

  4. Encrypt important data, information, and correspondence that is stored within the college network and on servers;

  5. Installed applications must be updated in a timely manner;

  6. Constantly check the college's network and servers for possible attacks and take precautions to prevent them;

  7. The administrator account should be provided with a complex password that a single user has access to. Passwords on computers should be changed periodically. Log-in data for terminated employees must be deleted;

  8. Access to the Internet must be through an internal network or VPN;

  9. The use of a WAF (Web Application Firewall) that monitors the legitimacy of user requests and traffic is recommended.

  10. The use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) is recommended, which distributes the load to different servers when visitors are delayed;

  11. Traffic should be controlled by an access control list (ACL), where users' roles and their access levels to the system are prescribed. Additional protection is the installation of firewalls;

  12. For a secure stay in the network, it is necessary to clean cookies, DNS cache before every login;

  13. The use of protection against spambots in the form of captcha is recommended;

    Using multiple servers will reduce the risk of overloading and prevent a work stoppage in case one of them fails;

  14. The use of hardware protection from DDoS attacks is recommended;

  15. You should choose a hosting provider that provides a full range of services to ensure information security of your own resources;

  16. It is necessary to program reverse attacks. This will allow not only to repel cyber threats but also to destroy the intruders' server.

  17. Imply a two-factor authentication which is a simple but effective way to create an extra level of cybersecurity for college accounts. The most common authentication method used by most popular online services is a text message with a code sent to your phone. In this way, cybercriminals will not be able to access sensitive data, even if they have credentials.

All these measures must be applied in combination, and one or more persons responsible for the implementation of all aspects of information security must be identified.

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