As the global pandemic extends into the fall, it’s clear that most schools and universities will continue to rely on online instruction in the near term. However, although online instruction can help minimize health risks, it also introduces heightened security risks and highlights the importance of protecting data.

This was certainly true in corporate environments, where more than 80 percent of companies saw “slightly to considerably more” cyberattack attempts in the first half of 2020. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, higher education will continue to become an increasingly target-rich environment.

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To keep their courses and students safe, it’s up to institutions to make cybersecurity top of mind. Robust access control, authentication, data integrity, and content protection are all essential to safeguarding sensitive data and communications. Educators must not only protect sensitive data but take proactive steps to safeguard online communications.

Safeguarding a wealth of personal data

School systems have long been a ripe target for hackers and other bad actors. Many are especially vulnerable to attacks because they lack the security systems and IT resources that corporations and large enterprises utilize. In 2019, ransomware infections impacted more than 500 schools in the U.S. alone. As schools spend more of their limited IT resources building digital classrooms, the threat is likely to grow. Just this past June, hackers took Columbia College student data hostage and threatened to sell it on the dark web.

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About the Author:

Dean Coclin is the Senior Director of Business Development at DigiCert.