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One of the major challenges facing education institutions in 2021 is protecting staff and students from cyber security attacks - which are increasing significantly and becoming much more sophisticated in nature. Email is the most common vector for online security threats
Schools and colleges are often constrained by tight budgets – with spending on students and teaching being prioritised. As a result many institutions simply do not have sufficient spam filtering security tools in place to stop email threats, and as a result their networks are easy to penetrate. There can also be a lack of awareness about security threats, among both staff and students.
Cyber attacks are a lucrative business for hackers. However education institutions are a particularly enticing target. Contact email addresses of faculty and teaching staff are easily available online, allowing attackers to easily compromise them.
Also there is a wealth of sensitive information exchanged through email on a daily basis in educational institutions worldwide. This can range from financial reports, personal student data, password databases, all of which are of extreme value to cybercriminals.
So what are the main steps educational institutions need to take to go about tackling security risks? First lets look more in-depth at the threats facing education.
These exist mainly in the form phishing and malware attacks
Phishing attacks involve cybercriminals sending emails inviting a user to click on an infected link or attachment. Once the link is accessed, the user is taken to a bogus webpage where they will be instructed to submit credit card or login credentials (thus surrendering their password) for example. Phishing emails can be difficult to detect, they are becoming more and more sophisticated in nature and often don’t appear malicious in appearance.
How do they affect schools and colleges?
A common type of phishing attack aimed at the education sector is emails offering free grants to students and requesting their bank details and login details to be submitted in order to avail of the offer. Falling victim to such attacks can potentially cost staff and students thousands.
Malware is another significant security threat. In such instances emails contain a link, which when accessed activates a virus which rapidly spreads throughout the college/school network and servers. Access to the servers will only be re-granted by the hacker on the condition of a ransom being paid. As well as the financial implications associated with falling victim to such an attack, it can also lead to key academic reports and publications being lost if not backed up properly.
Again malware attacks are often extremely sophisticated and carefully designed. This means that traditional email filters (that often come as part of email servers), don’t readily identify them as harmful, and so pass the emails through the server undetected.
While the threats associated with inbound email are well publicised and documented, educational institutions also need to be cognisant of the risks associated with infected outbound emails.
By gaining access to staff and student email accounts, cybercriminals can subsequently send hundreds of spam and phishing emails from these accounts targeting other users within the institution. Even hacking one email account can provide access to a wealth of sensitive information throughout the institution.
If an email account associated with your college or school is flagged as sending spam or phishing emails, the school/college IP address can ultimately be blacklisted, leading to all emails leaving the institution being classified as spam. This in turn causes huge communication issues for staff and students, with emails failing to deliver.
The first step to blocking phishing and malware attacks is to implement a strong email security solution.
Email Protection Solutions like SpamTitan enable educational institutions to detect and stop threats at the source before they can reach their servers.
SpamTitan is a Cloud-based solution with no hardware or software required. It is extremely intuitive and easy to set up, offering real-time detection for threat analysis, using dual antivirus engines to provide signature-based protection against 100% of known malware.
Our advanced threat protection and sandboxing services allow in-depth analysis of suspicious attachments to identify zero-day malware threats.
SpamTitan also offers full outbound email protection, ensuring no malicious or spam emails ever leave your institution, protecting your users and your credibility.
Even if you experience an outage, SpamTitan is always working in the background, ensuring staff and students are not disrupted from their operations.
What’s more, SpamTitan is extremely affordable - with a flexible pricing model pricing model and monthly billing options available, alleviating any budget constraint concerns. Talk to us today and we’ll be happy to offer you a customised quote based on your needs.
Harrisonburg City Public School deployed SpamTitan to ease the burden of combating spam.
Read how SpamTitan Gateway protected over 5000 mailboxes from email threats
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