Many educational organizations are at risk of data security incidents during the current period of working from home and virtual learning, a Netwrix report reveals.
Weak data security controls
According to the survey, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of educational organizations had weak data security controls.
In particular, 54% of IT professionals in the educational sector confessed that employees put data at risk by sharing it via cloud apps outside of IT knowledge. This is the highest percentage among all verticals surveyed. The move to distance learning increases this risk even more.
Other notable findings
- 82% of educational organizations don’t track data sharing at all or do it manually, and 50% of them suffered a data breach due to unauthorized data sharing last year.
- 63% of educational organizations don’t review permissions regularly, and 24% of system administrators admitted to granting direct access rights upon user request.
- 28% of respondents discovered data outside of secure locations, which is the highest number of all industries surveyed. This data was left exposed for days (40%) or months (33%).
- Only 8% of respondents have developed cybersecurity and risk KPIs to evaluate their security posture and track success.
“Distance learning creates many challenges for educational organizations, and cybersecurity is often taking a back seat to operational resilience. The Netwrix survey shows that security processes were not ideal before the pandemic, leaving these institutions even more vulnerable to the growing number of cyber threats today.
“To ensure these institutions can secure their student and employee data, IT professionals need to get back to basics. First, they need to understand what sensitive data they have, and classify it by its level of sensitivity and value to the organization.
“Second, they need to ensure that the data is stored securely, prioritizing the most important data. And last, they need to adopt healthy security practices for granting permissions in order to avoid data overexposure,” said Steve Dickson, CEO at Netwrix.