In the digital age, cybersecurity is a vital consideration for international and independent schools. Schools face many safeguarding challenges and parental expectations, both of which must be addressed if they are to protect and maintain their reputation. This blog explores the critical role of cybersecurity in creating a safe and secure environment for prospective and current students, their families, staff, alumni and other stakeholders, while addressing the relevant concerns within the international and independent school setting.
Safeguarding students is a top priority for any educational institution, and cybersecurity plays a key role, albeit not the only one. Robust cybersecurity measures help protect sensitive student data from falling into the wrong hands. This includes securely storing personal information, controlling access to confidential records via granular user permissions (learn more here), and safeguarding against cyber threats like phishing attacks and data breaches. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy fosters a safe digital environment for students and contributes to their overall well-being.
In an era where passwords are a crucial component of our digital lives, ensuring sufficient password complexity is of utmost importance. International and independent schools must enforce stringent password policies to mitigate the risk of unauthorised access to sensitive information. Here are some further practices and considerations to bear in mind:
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Implementing two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to user accounts. By requiring an additional verification step, such as a unique code sent to a registered device, 2FA acts as a major deterrent to hackers attempting to gain unauthorised access.
Regular Password Updates
Changing passwords at regular intervals is essential. Schools should encourage users to change their password at intervals set in their internal policies, ideally every three months. Regular updates reduce the risk of password compromise and enhance overall security.
Complexity and Length
As mentioned earlier, passwords should be complex and at least 12 characters long. Encourage the use of a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid easily guessable information like names, birthdates, or common words. To further increase password entropy (the measurement of how unpredictable a password is), use a combination of real words and substitute one or two letters for symbols or numbers. This is harder to hack than a shorter password made up of random symbols and letters, and coincidentally, is easier to remember as well. E.g. L0nd0n_h!pp0_p0pcOrn is easier to remember than gH!£k$%B, and harder to hack.
Parents invest significant financial resources in their children’s education and rightfully expect schools to safeguard sensitive personal data and students’ online activities. Strong cybersecurity practices demonstrate a school’s commitment to protecting privacy and building trust. Schools should transparently communicate their cybersecurity measures to parents throughout the admissions process, assuring them that their information is secure and their child’s online activities are monitored and protected. Clear communication about data protection policies helps alleviate concerns and strengthens the partnership between schools and parents.
A security breach can have severe consequences for the reputation of international and independent schools. News of a data breach or cyber incident spreads quickly and can damage trust in the school – or group, if it is part of a wider school system. Parents, students, and other stakeholders rely on schools to provide a safe and secure environment, both physically and digitally. By prioritising cybersecurity and implementing proactive measures, schools can protect their reputation and demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their community.
Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance; by addressing safeguarding concerns, promoting password complexity, meeting parental expectations, and protecting the school’s reputation, independent and international schools can create a safe and secure digital environment. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures, including comprehensive data protection policies, encryption protocols, regular staff training, and ongoing risk assessments, helps safeguard sensitive information and maintain the trust of students, parents, and stakeholders.
In this regard, OpenApply’s continuous security updates and commitment to digital safeguarding play a vital role in helping schools enhance their cybersecurity practices. We want to ensure that our platform remains at the forefront of security standards, providing schools with reliable protection against emerging cyber threats.
To learn more about how your school can further strengthen its cybersecurity infrastructure with OpenApply, schedule a free demonstration with a member of the team: