More than educational material, data allows school administrators to save information about their students from their grades, attendance records, extracurricular and personal history, to their disciplinary reports. There’s even GPS tracking and biometrics for attendance issues and criminal activity. Because the information is so sensitive, it is crucial that school management software is secure and protected from loss or theft at all times.
School data is very much like healthcare data – it’s confidential information, and information breaches can cause serious consequences for students, their families, and the school itself. Therefore, safeguarding student records has become a priority for schools across America.
Consequences of Data Breaches in Schools
Technology has increased access to confidential information, and more people than ever before have the opportunity to mishandle or steal student data. If something does go wrong, there are far-reaching consequences for the school community at large.
Data breaches can expose students to identity theft, resulting in harassment and bullying of students, increase liability costs and reduce their ability to attract new students. Even more importantly, they endanger the personal safety of students whose behavioral records are no longer confidential.
All this points to the fact that school information security is more important than ever before for school administrators, and unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy to find the right technology. That said, there are some simple steps parents can take to ensure their child’s information isn’t compromised by data breaches or hackers.
Tips for Protecting Your School Management Software Data
Cyber security for schools is similar to the kinds of protections you’d find at any business, company, or institution, but with subtle differences. The main concepts are essentially the same, and you can apply them to the management of your school’s information security.
1. Assess your security measures
Before starting to use school management software, you need to be completely sure that it is secure. You should check if the system uses strong cryptography and authentication protocols – TLS/SSL, data in transit encryption, two-factor authentication, etc. Make sure that all of your sensitive data is encrypted and secure.
2. Understand how sensitive your data is
School data isn’t just any other form of confidential information – it’s crucial for identifying and learning about students, and it should be protected as such. Unfortunately, many software solutions don’t encrypt student records at all. Others use outdated encryption methods that can easily be reversed by hackers and security experts. Because of this, you must make sure that your data is protected at all times.
3. Be aware of new threats
Hackers are finding new ways to access information every day, which makes it necessary for schools to update their protection methods accordingly. Software companies should be up-to-date on security standards and best practices, and they should ensure that their products are protected with the most up-to-date security measures.
4. Implement a backup policy
In case your school management software is hacked, you need to find a way to recover data in a safe manner. Even in a situation when security breaches lead to irreversible loss of student records, there’s no reason to panic. With a good backup policy, schools can restore their information within minutes and protect it against future cyber-attacks.
5. Protect your website
If you run a school website, make sure that all software on this platform is updated with the latest security patches. Cybercriminals often use vulnerabilities on websites as backdoor entry points into other systems, which makes it necessary to take additional precautions.
6. Track students using GPS
GPS tracking doesn’t just help you monitor your students – it can protect them as well! By installing GPS devices on school vehicles, parents can be assured that their kids will reach their destination safely. Furthermore, the device emits a signal about its exact location, which can surprise criminals.
7. Warn students about cyber-security
Information security is crucial for identifying and learning about students, but it’s also important for keeping them safe. Make sure that your students are aware of the dangers of sharing personal information online, and teach them how to protect themselves online in a proper manner.
8. Don’t store data on unprotected devices
P2P technology is useful for sharing information, but it can also be a big security flaw. Make sure that your school management software doesn’t allow students to use P2P connections without restriction. It’s also important to make sure that teachers don’t share information with students over these networks.
9. Assign data roles
Data access controls should be activated during the installation and configuration of school management software. Good school management software should allow you to secure sensitive information and limit access to it on an individual basis. For instance, only the administrator of the system should be able to manage student grades. By assigning different roles to teachers, administrators, parents, and students, schools can prevent unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.
10. Educate teachers on safe data practices
Securing student records isn’t just the school administrator’s job – it should be a collaborative effort! Make sure that all of your teachers, staff members, and volunteers are aware of basic standards and best practices when it comes to school network security.
11. Encrypt all data
Encryption improves data protection, but it’s also important to make sure that all information is encrypted during transmission. While some secure transmissions might be set up using the same technology, others will require additional encryption modules and protocols.
Encrypted transmissions might not be the only way to secure information! If you have school management software that allows you to decrypt student data from anywhere, it’s important for administrators to supervise this process.
If you want to protect student records and prevent unauthorized access to them, don’t forget about backups! Make sure that all of the information on your computer is encrypted using up-to-date security standards.
12. Make sure your software allows flexible authentication
Authentication processes should be simple and easy to use, which is why it’s crucial for schools to make sure that their software features flexible authentication options. In most cases, schools should allow administrators and parents to log in using passwords or tokens.
Some schools might not be able to make use of encrypted transmissions or VPN connections, which is why they should look out for 2-factor authentication options. This type of security feature can ensure that only authorized users are able to access the system after providing their credentials.
13. Set up automatic software updates
Keeping your school management software updated is very important, and you should take every step necessary to protect it against future cyber-attacks. Make sure that your system automatically downloads all available updates and installs them without requiring your intervention.
14. Use a VPN connection to encrypt data
Some schools might not be able to use encrypted transmissions, but they can still protect themselves by using a VPN connection. If you want to ensure that all of your data is encrypted while it’s being transferred, set up a VPN connection and protect your school management software against unauthorized access.
15. Assign permissions based on roles
One of the most important security features in school management software is permissions. Make sure that your system allows you to assign different types of roles and access rights, which means that teachers can only view their students’ information.
It’s important to make sure that your school management software is secure and encrypted. While some schools might be able to use more advanced protocols and security features, others can still manage to protect themselves by making simple changes.
SchoolCues is an all-in-one school management system for small schools with limited budgets and resources. Our solutions include admissions and enrollment, online payments, student information system, gradebook, communications, parent engagement, donations and fundraising, alumni management and more. Schedule a demo with us today.