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Safeguarding Digital Spaces: Cybersecurity Strategies for SLP Schools

Information Technology (IT) provides computer and technology devices to nearly all students and staff in the district, and implements safeguards to protect against cyber security threats. In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, ensuring the safety and security of students and staff is a top priority for SLP Schools. Some common threats include phishing and malware, and with threats on the rise, the IT team has adopted a multi-tiered cybersecurity approach to protect against potential risks. 

“Several strategies are employed to keep students and staff data safe on district assigned devices. Many of these strategies are transparent to the user, but this comprehensive strategy encompasses individual devices, district networks and services, as well as cloud-based partnerships,” shared Tom Marble, director of information technology.

Included in the IT plans are strategies for device and network security, internet controls, and continued partnership work to reduce the risk of cyberthreats. In addition to the strategies detailed in the IT security plan, there are many ways to mitigate the individual risk of cyber attacks. Updating devices regularly and exercising caution with emails and file sharing are a few ways individuals can protect themselves. Utilizing secure passwords and storing devices in a secure environment can also prevent others from accessing personal information.

IT Security Strategies 

Device Security: Protecting the Front Line

To safeguard data on district-assigned devices, a variety of strategies are employed, many of which operate seamlessly in the background for users. Key measures include:

  • Data Encryption: Utilizing encryption on staff devices prevents unauthorized access in case of loss or theft.
  • Malware Protection: Software agents installed on devices act as a shield against malware and viruses.
  • Software Restrictions: Preventing the installation of unauthorized software is a critical step in securing devices.
  • Regular Updates: Keeping all devices up-to-date with the latest software versions is essential for addressing potential vulnerabilities.    

Network Security: Building a Fortified Backbone

The district's wired and wireless networks serve as the essential infrastructure for all services. Key elements of network security include:

  • Firewall Protection: A robust firewall between the internal network and the internet acts as the first line of defense, blocking thousands of threats hourly.
  • Content Filtering: This tool not only shields students from inappropriate content but also identifies and blocks malicious code on websites.
  • Data Encryption: Wireless networks transmit data securely through encryption.
  • Segmentation: Networks are segmented to allow only authorized traffic on specific segments.

Internet - Cloud Security: Navigating the Cloud Safely

As many services reside in the cloud, partnerships with cloud service providers are crucial for security and privacy. Notable features include:

  • Google Workspace Audit: A recent audit by an external security expert confirmed SLP Schools' adherence to best practices in the Google environment, surpassing national standards.
  • Data Exchange Assurance: Secure data exchanges between internal and external systems are a top priority.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA is mandatory for critical systems, adding an extra layer of security.
  • Daily Backup: The entire Google domain is backed up daily, ensuring data recovery capabilities.

Partnerships: Strengthening Defenses Together

Acknowledging the escalating threats in the digital realm, SLP Schools has forged partnerships with cybersecurity firms. This collaborative effort involves:

  • Continuous Monitoring: An alliance with a Minnesota-based cybersecurity firm facilitates around-the-clock monitoring of internal networks and cloud infrastructure, bolstering prevention and response capabilities.

Though the effort to prevent a cyber attack is a collective effort, through the implementation of these strategies, SLP Schools aims to foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness while creating a safer digital environment for all students and staff.