Five ways the cloud can help improve your school's security

We've all seen the headlines:

“Education Technologies: Data Collection and Unsecured Systems Could Post Risks to Students,” warned the FBI in a September 2018 Public Service Announcement.

“Ryuk ransomware shuts down New Mexico school district a second time,” EDSCOOP, February 26, 2020 

“Student hacker grabbed personal data of thousands of Maryland students,” EDSCOOP, December 3, 2019 

“Texas K-12 district loses $2.3 million in email scam,” EDSCOOP, January 13, 2020 

Security breaches have become a fact of life for organizations worldwide — regardless of their size or industry. Sometimes a single mistake such as falling for a phishing scam or opening a virus-infected file is all it takes.

No school is immune from security risks. You may not even know your school is at risk, or has been compromised in some way, until it’s too late.


Risk by the numbers:

92%

92% of breaches are financially motivated. 1

57%

57% of database breaches involved insider threats within an organization. 2

Of the data compromised in attacks on educational institutions, 75% was personal, 30% impacted credentials and 13% was internal. 3

So the question isn’t whether you are at risk, but rather how you will protect your school.

  • Are you able to find experts with the security experience necessary to help build a secure communications infrastructure?
  • Can your security help protect against hackers, denial-of-service attacks and other threats?
  • Are you helping to protect unsecured mobile devices and apps that connect to your network—protecting calls, voicemail, passwords, and other sensitive data from theft?

The cloud is simple and secure.

The challenge of strengthening your school’s security may seem overwhelming, but there is a simple solution. Many schools are protecting themselves by replacing their local PBX with Verizon's cloud-based communications services.

Verizon's cloud communications services are built from the ground up with enhanced protections. They are also supported by security pros who provide around-the-clock monitoring you will find difficult to replicate on your own.

Here are 5 specific ways your school can benefit by moving to the cloud:

1. Encryption

Trusted cloud communication solutions incorporate sophisticated encryption standards and cryptographic algorithms, certificates, and protocols recommended by top security experts. These include OpenSSL, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), X.509 certificates, and RFC-compliant network communication protocols (TLS, OCSP).

Encryption is critical to protecting vital school data while it’s stored and while it travels over a network. Sophisticated cryptographic routines take those protections a step further by authenticating both users and devices before they connect to your communication solution.

2. Preserving confidentiality

“Confidentiality” involves making your servers and software hard for hackers to break into. Top communication service providers like Verizon make confidentiality a priority. They focus on secure software design and coding, proper configuration, and careful monitoring to help protect your confidential communications from intruders.

With confidentiality measures in place, you can have operating system security, as well as network security governing your ports and protocols used. You can also have application security for your voice portal, including SIP access control lists, password policies and enforcement, device lockout, call processing policies and controls.

3. Redundacy and Business Continuity

Communication outages are costly to both your budget and reputation. They impact your staff's ability to deliver lessons effectively and to stay connected with parents, staff and pupils.

Many factors can cause your communications network to go down. Human mistakes are common, like overloading an electrical circuit in an onsite server. You might be hit by a denial-of-service attack that ties up your network. You might also be affected by flooding and extreme weather conditions, or even a rogue digger that damages your lines.

With cloud communications from Verizon, you get an added level of protection against outages that could be difficult to replicate on your own. That’s because top communication service providers establish geographically dispersed data centers with redundant service clusters, routers, and network paths so there is no single point of failure.

Verizon has invested in high-availability routers, switches, and firewalls and can scale to accommodate many millions of lines of simultaneous communications traffic. Verizon has also adopted process protocols to support high availability — such as upgrades and patches that can be applied while systems and software remain live.

4. Long-term system management and innovation

If you have a premises-based PBX, you know first-hand that manageability is a big deal. If your solution isn’t easy to manage, you’ll end up needing a costly team of experts to help with setup, security, and ongoing management.

With cloud communications, you’re not responsible for the underlying infrastructure, applications, and security features. You can rest easy knowing that seasoned experts are in charge. All you need to worry about is day-to-day administration, such as adding or deleting users and administering passwords.

5. Standards compliance and the future

Every company will say its products and services have “great security.” But what assurance do you have of their claims?

Verizon has its security measures confirmed by independent, third-party organizations and standards bodies. Look for compliance with security certifications and quality assurance benchmarks including: TL 9000, ISO 9000, ISO 27001, FedRAMP, and NIST SP800-53, to name a few.

Sources:

Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)

2 The State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2019 Year in Review, The K12 Cybersecurity Resource Center

3 Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)