As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many educational institutions have been forced to shift their on-campus classes to online classes. Various EdTech platforms have also launched free classes that have prompted students to try their hands on digital education. With more students turning to online learning than ever, these platforms have emerged as a lucrative target for cybercriminals.
One of India’s largest online educational platforms, Unacademy, has recently admitted to suffering a data breach that exposed the personal information of around 11 million students. A report by cybersecurity firm Cyble found that the threat actor was selling the stolen user database for $2,000 on the dark web.
Another recent incident of compromised security was Indian EdTech startup Skolaro suffering a similar data leak where sensitive information of 50,000 students along with the information of their parents and teachers was exposed.
5 tips for EdTech platforms to prevent cyberattacks
While the numbers are frightening, EdTech vendors have the power to reverse the trend by putting calculated cybersecurity protocols in place. This blog will discuss five tips for implementing these protocols and minimizing the risk of suffering a data breach.
Tip 1: Hunt for threats
To hunt for threats means to proactively search for malware or attackers that are lurking in your network. These days, attackers have become dangerously good at breaking into and hiding in enterprise networks for long periods. According to ZDNet, most companies take over six months to detect a data breach. In that amount of time, an attacker could infiltrate your network, work their way through different systems looking for key information, and siphon off sensitive data.
Although traditional security tools can deal with commonly known threats, you still need to worry about the unknown ones, which are more likely to include different types of advanced persistent threats (APTs) that can cost your organization heavily.
One way to hunt for threats is to perform in-depth log analysis, which involves sifting through logs from different sources and investigating the ones that don’t align with normal network activity and indicate suspicious activity.
Tip 2: Regularly fine-tune your security tools to capture the indicators of attack
Apart from deploying security tools, monitoring them is essential to ensure your network remains secure. Monitoring the events occurring in security tools can give deep insights into your overall network security.
Using an efficient security information and event management (SIEM) solution is the best way to monitor all your security tools and devices from one place. It can provide a clear overview into an organization’s network infrastructure by collecting log data from different sources like firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection appliances, and correlating it to initiate automated remediation responses, generate easy-to-read reports, and more.
Select a SIEM solution that can offer multiple lines of defense, and protect your systems and data from all kinds of threats.
When choosing a SIEM solution, ensure that:
- It is scalable.
- It is compatible with your logs.
- It has built-in forensic analysis capabilities.
- It has a good correlation engine that allows it to associate logs across multiple sources.
- The vendor provides timely updates and security patches.
- It can be easily deployed.
In addition to the points mentioned above, your SIEM solution should offer built-in user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). UEBA learns about each user and entity, and creates a baseline of regular activities for them.
UEBA solutions are capable of detecting insider threats that fly under the radar of traditional security solutions. Any activity that deviates from this baseline gets flagged as an anomaly. The IT administrator can then investigate the issue, and take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk.
Tip 3: Prevent unauthorized access to your network
Apart from using firewalls and reviewing server logs for detecting malicious activities, ensure that unauthorized users cannot access your network remotely. Below are some important points to be implemented in order to prevent unauthorized access:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) for encrypted communication.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA).
- Restrict functions based on access control lists.
- Use email filtering to block malicious attachments.
- Implement a strong password policy.
- Limit permissions to prevent privilege escalation attempts.
Tip 4: Build an incident response plan, and be reactive
No matter how strong your cybersecurity posture is, there’s always the possibility of a cyberattack that could entirely cripple your network. If you wait for the day when you experience your first attack to come up with a plan, chances are it will cost you heavily.
An incident response plan is a blueprint to help an organization detect, respond to, and recover from network security incidents. These plans address issues like cybercrime, data loss, and service outages that threaten everyday work. A well-crafted incident response plan will help your organization perform at its best by preparing for the worst.
An effective incident response plan focuses on six key aspects:
- Forming an incident response team
- Detecting the source of the breach
- Containing the breach and recovering lost data
- Assessing the damage and severity
- Notifying affected parties, so they can protect themselves from identity theft
- Practice and training
Every organization will have different incident response steps to be taken based on their IT infrastructure and business needs.
Tip 5: Have a forensic readiness plan
Forensic analysis of digital evidence is usually conducted after a major information security incident has occurred. This is why it’s a good practice to gather and preserve data that can serve as evidence in case an incident occurs.
According to Forensics Readiness Guidelines (NICS, 2011), forensic readiness is having an appropriate level of capability in order to be able to preserve, collect, protect and analyze digital evidence so that this evidence can be used effectively: in any legal matters; in security investigations; in disciplinary proceeding; in an employment tribunal; or in a court of law.
The benefits of having a forensic readiness plan are that it:
- Minimizes the cost of cyber investigations
- Blocks the opportunity for malicious insiders to cover their tracks
- Cuts down the time required to identify the attack vector
- Helps you recover from attacks effectively
- Reduces the cost of legal requirements for disclosure of data
- Helps with insurance claims
Having a forensic readiness plan in place ensures that the required digital evidence is readily available and in an acceptable form in case of a data breach. Organizations that already have a forensic readiness plan should check to see if they’re reaping these benefits and, if not, it may be time to reevaluate its effectiveness.
Follow these five tips to greatly reduce the risk of a huge data breach in your organization. If you are looking for a comprehensive SIEM solution, check out Log360, the one-stop solution for all your log management and network security needs. Start your free, 30-day trial today.
** Optrics Inc. is an Authorized ManageEngine partner
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