Schools – the overlooked cybersecurity vulnerability

As we enter a new year, cybersecurity and protection against cyberattacks is poised to continue being a focus for organizations worldwide. This will require addressing an until-now overlooked cybersecurity vulnerability – colleges and universities.

We have written before about the issues that schools face in presenting a solid defense against cybercrime; Lincoln University stands out in the severity of the aftermath, but higher education institutions are targeted routinely. In the year 2022 alone, an alarming 960 schools fell victim to various forms of cyberattacks in the USA.

The reason for this stark statistic is the unique combination of issues schools face: Unlike businesses, they will rarely have a dedicated response team to deal with cybersecurity issues, and many institutions have badly out of date and misconfigured systems. To add to this problem, schools constantly cycle through new students, each of whom represents a potential new entry point criminals can use to compromise systems and begin infiltrating through. Students routinely divulge significant details about their private lives on social media, leading to their accounts being compromised and leveraged to compromise still more.

The unfortunate consequence is that educational institutions are a prime target for cyberattacks, and will continue to attract attention from criminals looking for easy pickings. These same educational institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities, should implement proactive measures and develop efficient incident response plans to mitigate such cybersecurity risks, given their unique mix of vulnerabilities. This is, of course, easier said than done – but on the balance, a necessity.

What measures can organizations take?

There’s a number of steps organizations including educational institutions can and should take. We’ve covered many of them on this blog previously, but in brief, the most relevant are:

Risk Assessment

Organizations which clearly identify gaps in their cybersecurity coverage are better positioned to implement fixes and close these gaps before a critical failure can occur.

Incident identification

Once a breach has occurred, how much you can limit the damage is largely contingent on the speed at which you can identify it has occurred and begin taking prompt disaster recovery measures.

Incident response

A good disaster recovery plan in place, as discussed by the often-cited Ransomware Playbook, can be executed on using known steps. This both speeds up the overall response and helps increase the odds of a positive result. It also ensures you do not miss any critical steps, such as mandatory reporting, which could expose you to further risk! Disaster recovery relies on there being systems in place that the recovery process can lean on, such as a secure backup you can selectively or comprehensively restore from.


Continually educating employees, students and other stakeholders about best practices and safety helps mitigate risk! Especially with educational institutions that cycle through large volumes of new faces, reaffirming lessons and introducing new concepts as the field develops is critical to reducing the number of incidents.

Taken together, these steps should form the backbone of how organizations mitigate their risks and minimize the effects of cybersecurity failures, helping prevent worst-case scenarios like that of Lincoln University, which permanently closed after a particularly unpleasant ransomware attack last year.

Backup systems remain a necessity

Falling under disaster recovery is backups or archives – data systems that can maintain your data safe in an airgapped repository. When systems are compromised, the backup remains unaffected and provides your organization the possibility of bouncing back.

Traditionally, this bounce back takes the form of a restore. This takes the original, untouched files and systems and replaces the compromised ones with their older form, essentially rolling back time to before a cyberattack has happened.

However, restores have a major complication – they take significant time, time during which key files are inaccessible and organizations are effectively out of action. Instead of spending their time productively, employees have to wait for the disaster recovery team to complete their action and for systems to be open again. This costs organizations precious time and resources – compounding other damage the cyberattack has caused.

Avoid lengthy restores with contentACCESS

One of the major benefits of TECH-ARROW’s contentACCESS Archive and Backup is that the unified system allows employees access to their information without the need for waiting until a restore completes. This means that instead of doing a system restore, you can selectively restore only the most key portions of your data. Other documents or files can be accessed via the archive or restored as needed.

This greatly simplifies the recovery process by cutting out one of the most time-consuming portions entirely. As a consequence, contentACCESS immediately jumps head and shoulders above the competition as the only equivalent system to offer this unique option.

With our unitary system, contentACCESS can provide an archive and backup for a wide spectrum of your company’s critical business information including your SharePointEmail communicationsMicrosoft Teams chat, and a file archive. This added layer of security helps ensure your business continuity in the event of a cyberattack on your company. At the same time, contentACCESS comes with an unprecedented ease of access; browse your archived information through our Web Portal, Outlook integration, or Mobile App – at home, at work, or on the fly. Improve both your productivity and security all in one package.

Are you prepared to face the challenges industry experts predict are coming in the last half of 2023? Do our offers interest you or your company? Our team of experts is waiting to walk you through our offer and show you how best to leverage our unitary archive and backup to match your company needs. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today!


Take the best steps to protect your data – with TECH-ARROW.

Archive all your O365 data with contentACCESS

by Matúš Koronthály