ATLIS Cybersecurity Advisory Panel Challenges Independent Schools to Take Action

Recently the ATLIS Cybersecurity Advisory Panel issued its 2017 report on the most significant sources of cyber attacks on independent schools, along with recommendations on how to combat those attacks. In this post, we introduce you to some of the key steps independent schools can take to protect their communities from cyber malfeasance.

Educational institutions are now a top target for cybersecurity attacks. Why? According to Jamie Britto of Collegiate School (VA), it’s “because we are weak and we pay.”


The need for protecting our data is a problem we must face in the here and now, yet many schools continue to rank cybersecurity as a low priority, despite how cyber attacks in the news have heightened our awareness of cybersecurity preparedness.

To address the very real threat of cyber attacks in today’s interactive workspace, ATLIS convened a Cybersecurity Advisory Panel, comprised of ATLIS members and cybersecurity professionals, to assess the top threats facing independent schools in 2017. ATLIS members can access the complete 2017 report of the ATLIS Cybersecurity Advisory Panel in the ATLIS online document library.

The panel not only identifies the top cybersecurity threats to independent schools, but also makes concrete recommendations for steps your school can and should take in the future. Two steps are key:

  • Using mock phishing exercises to assess and educate your faculty and staff;

  • Adopting multi-factor authentication for users of your network.

Are you practicing simulated phishing attacks to educate your faculty and staff about the malicious schemes that can find their way into school email inboxes, despite the best attempts by IT staff to block them? ATLIS members are encouraged to take advantage of a free mock phishing exercise made available through our partnership with Compass Cyber Security. If you haven’t scheduled your phishing “fire drill,” you can find more information on how to do so on our website.

Have you adopted multi-factor authentication? This cybersecurity best practice was the subject our a recent blog post by Bobby Bardenhagen of Marin Country Day School (CA).

Another recommendation made by Britto in our August webinar on “Onboarding Best Practices” is to make cybersecurity education a priority for new teachers.

The ATLIS Cybersecurity Advisory Panel identified and prioritized its recommendations based on the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, ATLIS member surveys and data, the experiences of Compass Cyber Security’s clients, and RSM, LLC’s 2017 Cybersecurity Outlook and Key Considerations for Nonprofits.


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