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VLCM IT Industry News

E-Rate Lowers Costs of Protecting K12 Schools From Cyber Threat

Posted by VLCM on Feb 1, 2017 3:16:39 PM

In our hyper-connected world, it’s tough to stay safe from cyber threats. For K-12 schools responsible for protecting the privacy and safety of students and staff, data security must be a high priority.

According to a recent 2016 Ponemon Institute report, as many as 15 percent of all recorded security breaches have occurred at an educational institution and the education industry overall has the second highest per capita data breach cost of all industries.  Those impacted include students, staff, support staff, administrators – anyone on the school’s network!

The experts at EdSurge say protecting data from hackers comes down to a handful of critical actions for educational institutions. These include securing every device, encrypting everything, utilizing web filtering to block (or limit the viewing of) social media sites, and educating staff and students on safe practices when using personal- and school-owned devices.

Mobile technology continues to enrich the education environment, but securing devices from becoming compromised is far from elementary. Unprotected devices become attack vectors for advanced threats that exploit the vulnerability of old-school firewalls and outdated security systems.

Secure Wi-Fi Leads to Secure Schools

Teachers, staff and students who understand the risks associated with Wifi usage are better equipped to create a safer and more productive digital learning environment. But a cyber-savvy school staff and student body is just one component of a comprehensive security plan. Another critical control is a secure Wi-Fi network infrastructure.

That’s where the federally-funded E-Rate program comes in. Created to provide secure and affordable broadband access to even the most cash-strapped K-12 school districts, E-Rate provides discounts of up to 85 percent to public and private schools on purchases of telecommunications services, Internet access and networking equipment. Funds can also be used for related software and services such as installation, technical support and most important — cybersecurity.

Optimizing E-Rate Dollars

Making sense of the vast array of cybersecurity options can be challenging for K-12 school districts with limited IT network security expertise and resources.

Experts recommend that schools seek a natively integrated security solution with unified threat management (UTM) features to consolidate essential security functions into one device including next generation firewall (NGFW) protection. UTM and NGFW are also the most efficient and affordable way for K-12 school districts to optimize E-Rate dollars.  

As a partner of Fortinet, we offer a UTM/NGFW solution that’s optimized for schools. The FortiGate platform provides best-in-class firewall protection, VPN, IPS, application control, web filtering, antivirus, anti-spam and data loss prevention; along with a simplified and centralized way to manage access points and switches within a single pane of glass.  

Unified Threat Management is a Smart Solution for Schools

Fortinet teams up with technology partners and educational institutions across the U.S. to bring schools the technology and tools they need to protect vital student and faculty data. Fortinet’s flexible and extensive product offerings enable customers to deploy an array of security solutions to meet specific needs.

VLCM is an IT solutions provider who specializes in protecting K-12 educational institutions from threats. We can recommend and help you deploy a unified, cost-effective cybersecurity platform to optimize your E-Rate dollars. Contact us today.

Topics: IT Tips