As cyber threats continue to increase, schools must take proactive steps to protect their sensitive data and assets from cybercriminals. Threats to data security are persistent and come from many different places.
Today’s schools and school groups are digitally sophisticated; just about every activity, from back office admin to teaching, relies on technology and data sharing. Hackers can breach these systems from several entry points, including computers, smartphones, cloud applications, and network infrastructure.
It’s estimated that cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of school networks.
One approach that can help organizations fight these intrusions is threat modeling. Threat modeling is a process used in cybersecurity, and it involves identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to an organization’s assets and systems.
Threat modeling helps school IT Departments prioritize their risk management and mitigation strategies. The goal is to mitigate the risk of falling victim to a costly cyber incident.
Here are the steps schools can follow to conduct a threat model.
Identify Assets That Need Protection
The first step is to identify the most critical assets to the school. This includes sensitive data, intellectual property, or financial information. What is it that cybercriminals will be going after?
Remember to include phishing-related assets such as email accounts. Staff email compromise is a fast-growing attack that capitalizes on breached email logins.
Identify Potential Threats
The next step is to identify potential threats to these assets. Some common threats include cyber-attacks such as phishing; others could be ransomware, malware, or social engineering.
Another category of threats could be physical breaches or insider threats, and this is where employees or vendors have access to sensitive information.
Remember, threats aren’t always malicious. Human error causes approximately 88% of data breaches. So, ensure you’re aware of mistake-related threats, such as:
– The use of weak passwords
– Unclear cloud use policies
– Lack of employee training
– Poor or non-existent BYOD policies
Assess Likelihood and Impact
Once you’ve identified potential threats, take the next step. This is to assess the likelihood and impact of these threats. Schools must understand how likely each threat is to occur. As well as the potential impact on their operations, reputation, and financial stability. This will help rank the risk management and mitigation strategies.
Base the threat likelihood on current cybersecurity statistics. As well as a thorough vulnerability assessment. This assessment should be by a trusted 3rd party IT service provider. If you’re doing your assessment with only internal input, you’re bound to miss something.
Prioritize Risk Management Strategies
Prioritize risk management strategies next. Base this on the likelihood and impact of each potential threat. Due to time and cost constraints, most schools can only tackle some things simultaneously. So, ranking solutions based on the most significant impact on cybersecurity is essential.
Some common strategies to consider include implementing the following:
– Access controls
– Intrusion detection systems
– Employee training and awareness programs
– Endpoint device management
Schools must also determine which strategies are most cost-effective. They should also align with their goals.
Continuously Review and Update the Model
Threat modeling is not a one-time process. Cyber threats are constantly evolving. Schools must continuously review and update their threat models. This will help ensure that their security measures are effective. As well as aligned with their objectives.
Benefits of Threat Modeling for School IT Teams
Threat modeling is an essential process for schools to reduce their cybersecurity risk. Identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to their assets and systems is necessary, and it helps them rank risk management strategies. As well as reduce the likelihood and impact of cyber incidents.
Here are a few benefits of adding threat modeling to a cybersecurity strategy.
Improved Understanding of Threats and Vulnerabilities
Threat modeling can help schools gain a better understanding of specific threats. It also uncovers vulnerabilities that could impact their assets. It identifies gaps in their security measures and helps discover risk management strategies.
Ongoing threat modeling can also help schools stay out in front of new threats. Artificial intelligence is birthing new types of cyber threats every day. School tech teams that are complacent can fall victim to further attacks.
Cost-effective Risk Management
Addressing risk management based on the likelihood and impact of threats reduces costs. It can optimize security investments, and this will help ensure that schools divide resources effectively and efficiently.
Threat modeling can help ensure security measures align with the school’s objectives. This can reduce the potential impact of security measures on operations, and it also helps coordinate security, goals, and procedures.
Reduced Risk of Cyber Incidents
By implementing targeted risk management strategies, schools can reduce risk. This includes the likelihood and impact of cybersecurity incidents, which will help protect their assets and reduce the negative consequences of a security breach.
Get Started with Comprehensive Threat Identification
How do I get started with a threat assessment? Our experts can help you put in place a comprehensive threat modeling program. Please give us a call today to schedule a discussion.
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