Cybersecurity, the new educational frontier: best practices for teachers

Cybersecurity: best practices for teachers

Empowering educators to promote online awareness

Technology is increasingly integrating into contemporary education. Thus, the use of the internet and multiple devices at school is growing considerably compared to just a couple of years ago. This revolution comes with some cybersecurity concerns.

Therefore, each school should implement a cybersecurity protocol and train its staff to protect data and sensitive information.

Considering, analyzing, and understanding the cyber threat landscape in education

According to the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, most institutions are “target rich and cyber poor”, meaning that the extensive amount of data they keep is extremely attractive and easily accessible to hackers.

Therefore, here are the most common and dangerous threats schools should look out for to ensure the cybersecurity of both personnel and students1.

Data breach

Data breaches are cyberattacks aimed at collecting sensitive data, and they are some of the most common cyber crimes. For a hacker, they are not complicated to execute when there is no proper authorization system in place to access information.


Phishing is a cyber-attack that exploits human emotivity to obtain sensitive information from the victim themselves. Most phishing strategies trick the victim into thinking they are sharing data with a legitimate counterpart for their own interest, which is why it is so difficult to recognize them.

IoT vulnerabilities

“IoT” (Internet of Things) is a term used to describe all devices that can connect to an Internet network. Of course, the most common ones are computers and laptops. However, many more devices we use daily, such as TVs and smart home accessories, connect to the Internet.

Therefore, when a single one of the multiple devices connected to a network isn’t protected with a proper access authorization system, it might compromise the entire network’s security, putting at risk all data that circulates within it.


Ransomware is the most frightening kind of cyberattack as it involves the demand for a ransom in exchange for essential data. In this case, the hacker prevents the victim from accessing data they own and has the right to until the ransom is paid.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)

This attack consists of flooding the victim’s server with excessive internet traffic to block navigation completely. As a result, there is a considerable cost in terms of time and money.

Safe digital classroom navigation: strategies for teacher and student protection

The best way to protect institutions and all the people gravitating around them, such as staff, teachers, and students, is to follow a cybersecurity protocol. Indeed, most schools are already implementing it, and each country has its own provisions on the matter. 

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that most of the time the devices dedicated to schoolwork are not exclusively connected to the school network. Actually, most teachers use their devices at home, meaning they connect to a private server that needs protection too.2

Thus, let us go through the best hacks to ensure secure navigation.

Encrypt your data

Essentially, encryption transforms your data into an unreadable format, safeguarding it from unauthorized access. Some servers offer built-in data encryption functions, providing an added layer of protection for your files and communications.

However, the best option is to secure your network with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), whether you’re using a private or public network. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, preventing hackers and snoopers from intercepting your sensitive information.

Back up your data

Data backup is essential for cybersecurity. It ensures that your critical information remains safe and accessible, even in the face of cyber threats, hardware failures, and unforeseen disasters. Moreover, in the case of ransomware, they ensure you access to your data without having to deal with the extortioner

Practice good password management

The best solution is to opt for a password manager. However, a program does not need to implement the basic best practices. Indeed, passwords should be regularly updated, diversified for each account, and never shared

Watch out for physical attacks

Physical attacks are a threat to cybersecurity just as much as cyberattacks: gaining control of a single device can compromise an entire network. Therefore, always logging out of a device when stepping away and making sure access credentials are private is key.

Integration of cybersecurity into educational practices: a question of holistic approach 

Cybersecurity should not be a standalone topic but rather it should integrate into every facet of school life. While implementing robust cybersecurity protocols is essential for leveraging effective technologies, their efficacy remains limited unless integrated into the organizational structure of the institution.

Furthermore, a holistic approach to cybersecurity must recognize the pivotal role of individuals. A secure digital environment is only attainable if all stakeholders commit to reinforcing best practices with consistent awareness and diligence.

Beyond the basics: advanced cybersecurity for teachers

Advanced cybersecurity strategies for teachers encompass several key elements3:

  1. Integrating Threat Intelligence feeds into your cybersecurity framework to stay ahead of emerging risks.
  2. Using Behavioral Analytics to detect anomalies in user and network behavior.
  3. Adopting a Zero-trust Architecture, especially in remote work scenarios, by requiring authentication from everyone accessing network resources.
  4. Leveraging Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions to strengthen endpoint security.
  5. Promoting Cloud Security best practices, especially for businesses migrating to cloud environments.

Fostering cyber hygiene and a cyber-aware community within schools

Fostering cyber hygiene and cultivating a cyber-aware community within schools is crucial in today’s digital age. A good cybersecurity program should involve students, teachers, and staff.4 Here are some key aspects all educational institutions should consider: 

  1. Schools should educate their community with training programs tackling all best practices and awareness campaigns to stress the importance of the topic. 
  2. All institutions should establish clear cybersecurity policies to ensure that the entire community is updated and aligned on which practices to put in place. 
  3. Parents should participate in the community effort, especially in primary education, as the school network integrates with all home networks through student devices. 

Overall, although some institutions may struggle to keep up with the rapid innovation of the digital realm and its threats, there is a growing awareness of the topic. Ultimately, investing in cybersecurity in schools not only protects valuable assets but also prepares students for the realities of an increasingly digital world, empowering them to navigate cyberspace safely and responsibly.



  1. “K-12 Report: CIS MS-ISAC Cybersecurity Assessment of the 2022–2023 School Year.” CIS
  2. Berkeley Extension. “Cybersecurity in Education: What Teachers, Parents and Students Should Know.” Berkeley Boot Camps, 3 Sept. 2020
  3. “Beyond Basics: Advanced Cybersecurity Strategies for a Fortified Future.”
  4. Brook, Chris. “What Is Cyber Hygiene? A Definition of Cyber Hygiene, Benefits, Best Practices, and More.” Digital Guardian, 6 May 2023

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