Cybersecurity Awareness Month: See Yourself in Cyber
By Cara Carter, Executive Director of Technology Division
As our world becomes more digital, school systems become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Staff and students knowing the importance of their impact on cybersecurity serves as a crucial step in keeping us digitally safe.
We aren’t only educating global citizens of tomorrow, we are helping mold their digital footprint and identity and are responsible for safeguarding their personal information and our own data systems. With such high stakes, a school district has a lot to lose if we don’t make this a top priority. Threats continue to increase at an alarming rate, and even with high-level engineers and sophisticated backend systems, we are all still vulnerable to potential threats.
It’s you — the parent behind the keyboard, the teacher helping a student log in to their Chromebook for the first time, the assistant principal emailing a student’s parents — who is our first line of defense. You play a bigger role than you could ever imagine in keeping yourself, others, and the entire district safe.
This year, during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Northwest ISD has been following the theme, “See Yourself in Cyber” alongside the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Throughout the month, we have been highlighting four specific strategies that stakeholders can engage in to better protect themselves and Northwest ISD.
- Think Before You Click: Recognize and Report Phishing: If a link looks a little off, think before you click. It could be an attempt to get sensitive information or install malware. In Northwest ISD, we conduct specific campus and department specific phishing campaigns to identify current potential threats and also recognize strengths of our staff.
- Update Your Software: Don't delay – If you see a software update notification, act promptly. Better yet, turn on automatic updates. In Northwest ISD, security updates are pushed to devices on a regular basis. The first couple times you are notified about an update, you are able to execute on your own timeline. After a specific amount of time, you will be forced to update.
- Use Strong Passwords: Use passwords that are long, unique, or a passphrase. On personal devices, you can use a password manager to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. Make sure you never reuse passwords across different websites!
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication: You need more than a password to protect your online accounts, and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked. While Northwest ISD currently requires MFA for staff members, it is important to enable it on your personal products when available.
When we work together, we make NISD a safer community!