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Cybersecurity in Education: Critical Information Held Hostage

- July 29, 2016 - 1 Comment

You’re headed into the office, and your mind is on everything you need to finish today. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day! It’s a good thing you’ve gotten an early start this morning…

But as you approach the office, you notice something strange: Are all of the blinds closed? Your heart races as you fumble for your access card. Red light. Access denied! What’s going on? At this early hour you have trouble comprehending what’s actually happening. You can’t think clearly, and have trouble deciding what to do next.

Most of us know the three tenets of cybersecurity by heart: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. According to 44 United States Code §3542, here are some definitions:

  • Confidentiality: Preserving authorized restrictions on information access and disclosure, including means for protecting personal privacy and proprietary information.
  • Integrity: Guarding against improper information modification or destruction, and includes ensuring information non-repudiation and authenticity.
  • Availability: Ensuring timely and reliable access to and use of information.

Cybersecurity these days seems to be all about Confidentiality and Integrity, and not so much about Availability. It’s easy to think like this: As long as we’re preventing our data from being stolen, changed, or destroyed, then we’re doing our jobs, right?

Wrong.

Ransomware is changing the game. Cybercriminals have learned how valuable our data is to us, and how much we’d pay to get it back. So rather than stealing sensitive data and then having to sell it on black markets, why not just lock it up? Hackers can simply hold it hostage — by encrypting it — so that it’s completely unavailable to you. Then they’ll demand a fat payment for the decryption key. And if you pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee that the key will actually work. They might even demand a second payment!

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Photo via Shutterstock

Ransomware means that everyone is locked out. For the education community, it means no registrar or bursar information. No online learning, class schedules, or student grades. No graduations! When ransomware strikes, you’ll have trouble comprehending what’s actually happening. It’ll be hard to think clearly, and it’ll be difficult deciding what to do next.

In our upcoming webinar, we’ll explore the ransomware problem and explain how it gets in. We’ll show you how to protect your school, college, or university from this increasing threat, and how to recover from it, should the unthinkable happen.

Let’s not forget the importance of availability, while also maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of our educational systems and critical information. To learn more about webinar in education, sign up for our webinars for K-12 education and higher education!

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1 Comments

  1. Very informative. TQ!