School IT departments

How School IT Departments can Worry Less and Focus More on Security

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The 2023-24 school year has been a rough year for K-12 IT departments. And it’s building off a bad 2022, when cyberattacks have increased by 84% in education, and with schools facing 190 known ransomware attacks and more that went unreported. Even though K-12 schools accounted for most of the breaches worldwide, the majority of school districts the majority of school districts still collect sensitive data and PII through free, subpar, or unsecured survey platforms.

So how do you do more with less? 

Every school is using forms and surveys to gather satisfaction ratings, surveys, and forms. All of which can contain some PII (Personally Identifiable Information). Unfortunately, most organizations (including most schools) allow anybody to use free software to gather sensitive information, often without knowing that it’s sensitive.  

For example, if one of your teachers is using Forms to collect permission slips, the information on the form (name, address, phone number) absolutely qualifies as PII, and remains in their account – not where IT can centrally manage it. Naturally, this creates pockets and silos of information across the school or district that are tough to find and audit so you can secure the data. 

And then all it takes is one hacker. 

Comparitech found the average amount of downtime caused by ransomware disruptions increased from 7.9 days in 2022 to 11.6 days in 2023. But this downtime also means a lot more work after you resolve the crisis to secure your network again, explain what happened, how, and what you’ve done to prevent it from happening again.  

There simply is no way to secure data that you don’t know about and isn’t stored where you can protect it.  

This is how you can secure everything without doing more work. 

When you choose an enterprise-class solution like Alchemer, you can centrally provision, manage, and administrate all of that data relatively easily, applying proper data policies, saving time and resources while still keeping everybody happy. So that your faculty and staff can collect what they need, and IT can keep it safe. You can also centrally control who can see what data and make sure people only see the data that is appropriate for their roles and responsibilities.  

Yes, there are free solutions, but when calculating the total cost of ownership, remember to include the IT administration costs of finding and securing that data. It might be free to a teacher, aide, or staff, but when the IT department has to find all of the data that is stored across the school or district, then figure out how to move it to a secure location so you can apply proper data protocols, it quickly gets time consuming – which is expensive. But, if the bad guys get there first, the fines will dwarf any presumed cost savings. 

Do more with less 

Not only does a solution like Alchemer make it dramatically easier to centralize and protect data, it also helps you deal with state mandates, such as providing information in multiple locations. With an Alchemer survey, your faculty and staff can easily upload translations to a survey and have all the responses in one place, so your experts can see all of the results, regardless of the language. 

It’s easy to administer and manage, since it’s SaaS-based, all administration can be done remotely. You can even set it up to easily grant permissions according to your district data policies. Plus, Alchemer employs industry-leading, enterprise-grade security protocols to keep your data protected. Certifications and compliances include SOC2 Type 2, ISO-270001, GDPR, and CCPA. 

K-12 schools need a fast, easy, and secure feedback platform to drive their schools forward. Before you default to free, look at the true costs and risks. Ask yourself, what will make your life easier and your district safer? Chances are the costs will be less than you think, and the rewards will be greater.  

Read the other blog posts in this series: 

To learn more about Alchemer security, click here

To learn more about Alchemer and education, click here

And, to speak with somebody about trading up to a safer, more secure solution, click here

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