We’ve all heard recent news coverage around the latest hacks, security breaches, and the like. In a world where electronic information is the new norm, a school environment can be at risk of exposing sensitive information involving students, parents, and staff.
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of many industries, including the K-12 space, and can be a challenge to address. Here are some reminders to help ensure your school data is secure:
Keep all student information in a secure place
Documentation, whether in electronic or paper, can be at risk if not handled properly. Make sure any items containing student and parent contact information, payment credentials, balances, income, and other confidential information are always stowed away in a safe place at all times.
For paper documents, designate a specified (fire-safe) desk drawer or vault where you can place items and lock them away with a desk key. For electronic documents, make sure files and folders are password protected. Designate a few times each day (ideally around lunchtime and before the end of the day) to perform a “secure sweep” of your desk area and office.
Properly dispose of paper documents
Old papers laying around? Throwing papers in the garbage and recycle bin can be an easy fix, but tossing away confidential papers puts data in jeopardy. Use an office shredder before recycling, or find out if your school has a secure document recycling service that ensures your paperwork will be properly destroyed.
Lock your POS stations and computers when not in use
Lunch time is busy! Meal staff can end up racing the clock to get students through the line and fed in ample time. Make sure your cashiers are locking their POS stations when leaving the lunch line. The same goes for your school office staff when they walk away from their desk!
Make sure your school payments provider is compliant
Does your district utilize an online service to manage school payments? If you do, or are considering one, make sure you do a full assessment of the security of your electronic payments provider. This will help secure not only your school’s data, but that of your parents and students. It is crucial that you know exactly how electronic payments are accepted, delivered and administered. When looking for an online school payments provider, ensure the solution meets the highest security standards with PCI-Level One compliance.
Update passwords more frequently
Those with access to personal information should practice updating their passwords regularly. What’s regular? Every three to four weeks is good practice, especially for your administrative staff handling financial or personal data. It might feel like a hassle, but it could help avoid a future problem.
Educate staff on basic IT privacy & security practices
Work with your IT department to create best practices and training to educate your staff on how to keep data safe. Some important tips include:
- Never share your password with anyone
- Know the signs of a phishing email
- Never click a link unless you know and trust the source from which it came
- Keep your security software up-to-date
- If an email seems odd or out-of-place, it's best to assume you've received a bad email - so report it to IT!
Covering common scams and tricks with your employees on a regular basis can help prevent critical data breaches from occurring.