3 min read

Elevate Your Digital Defense: Why Teachers & Parents Should Implement MFA

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In an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity has become a critical concern for all sectors, including education. With the rising number of data breaches in K-12 schools and universities, it is evident that action needs to be taken to protect sensitive information. But how can teachers and parents strengthen their defenses against cyber threats?

Over the past decade, there have been over 2,691 data breaches in US K-12 schools and universities, compromising a staggering 32 million records. These breaches highlight the urgent need for improved cybersecurity measures in educational institutions. Recognizing this, the US federal government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has recently released a comprehensive report that addresses the pressing cybersecurity challenges faced by K-12 schools.

One of the report's key findings is the effectiveness of Multifactor Authentication (MFA) in curbing cybersecurity risks. Despite resource limitations, K-12 institutions can take strategic steps to enhance their defenses against evolving threats. MFA, a technical term that may sound intimidating, is actually a valuable tool for educators, parents, and school leaders alike. This article will explore the importance of MFA and how it can be implemented to protect sensitive data in educational settings.

So, what is Multifactor Authentication (MFA)?

Simply put, it's an extra layer of security for your digital accounts. MFA combines something you know, like a password, with something unique to you, such as a one-time code sent to your email or phone. This two-step verification ensures that even if someone knows your password, they can't access your account without the second factor. You may have already experienced MFA when checking banking or credit card accounts, using an exchange service like Venmo, or when you're trying to access an account that you haven't logged into in a while.

Imagine a situation where student information, like names, addresses, academic progress, and medical history, is exposed due to a breach of confidentiality. This exposure could lead to identity theft, fraudulent activities, and harm to our students. As responsible parents and dedicated teachers, protecting student data is a collective duty we must not underestimate. By implementing MFA, we strengthen our defenses against cyber threats and unauthorized breaches, ensuring the security of our students' data. 

But, how do I convince my users to adopt MFA?

The Mighty Shield Against Password Vulnerabilities 

As often as we all get annoyed having to update passwords every so often (and may default to quickly creating something simple we won't forget), weak or easily guessable passwords can put your online accounts at risk. MFA comes to the rescue, minimizing the threat of compromised accounts due to weak password practices. It adds an extra barrier against unauthorized access, even if passwords are exposed or stolen.


Foiling Phishing Attacks 

In today's digital landscape, phishing attacks are a menacing reality and get more and more sophisticated by the minute. Teachers and parents, being valuable targets in educational institutions, must remain vigilant against these threats. MFA proves its worth by ensuring unauthorized individuals cannot gain access to accounts, even if credentials are compromised, thwarting any attempts at phishing success.


Leading by Example 

Teachers and parents play a pivotal role in shaping the digital behavior of young minds. By adopting and promoting the use of MFA, they set a powerful example and reinforce the importance of safeguarding personal information and instilling strong security habits from an early age, paving the way for a more secure digital future.


Fighting Cyberbullying and Account Identity Theft with Vigilance 

Cyberbullying and account identity theft are concerning issues in schools and online communities for all ages interacting online. MFA can be used to fight these risks by securing communication platforms and preventing unauthorized individuals from impersonating teachers and parents or gaining access to private conversations, creating a safer online environment for all.


Preserving Data Integrity 

Beyond safeguarding sensitive information, MFA also protects data integrity. With frequent collaboration on projects and communication through various platforms, the risk of data tampering is a serious concern. MFA addresses this by ensuring that only authorized individuals can access these accounts, preserving the sanctity of data.


Discover SchoolTool's Diverse MFA Options

At SchoolTool, we provide MFA for local accounts and support various SSO options, including Identity Provider Initiated, with each SSO option typically offering its own MFA mechanism (e.g., Microsoft, Google, ClassLink, Okta). 

Our core mission centers on safeguarding your valuable information, freeing you to prioritize your students' educational journey without being bogged down by data security concerns. Collaboration is fundamental to our approach. We actively partner with Regional Information Centers (RICs) and school districts across New York State, collectively heightening security measures and preemptively addressing potential risks. Exploring SchoolTool's range of MFA options represents just one step that districts can take to ensure data security.

Learn more about MFA

References

  1. Cook, S. (2023, April 3). US schools leaked 32 million records in 2,691 data breaches since 2005. Comparitech.com. Retrieved August 9, 2023, from https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/us-schools-data-breaches/

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