Email Security for Education

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September 29, 2022, Many educational institutions possess highly critical research data and financial donation information. Many middle schools, High schools, and higher education receive donations from public corporations and private citizens. Protecting this information is critically important the schools and universities.

Educational Attack Surfaces
The attack surface within an educational institution continues to expand beyond student email accounts, faculty mobile devices, and research depositories. Hackers leverage malicious emails inside their sophisticated attacks targeting research materials and donor information.

Educational systems in previous years spent considerably less on cybersecurity than companies in the private sector due to a lack of budget. With the passing of the Cybersecurity act of 2017 and other mandates, educational institutions began to spend more capital and hire cyber experts. Social officials recognize the impact of cyberattacks. Classes canceled, valuable and critical data stolen, and online services unavailable all impact the school finances.

What are some of the top cybersecurity risks for education institutions?
Zero-day attacks, ransomware, and APTs have potential impacts on organizations globally. Based on the latest report from IBM, the cost per breach, “data breach costs rose from USD 3.86 million to USD 4.24 million, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of this report.”

Most educational institutions fell victim to several cyber attacks costing schools millions of dollars. Many hold cybersecurity insurance policies to offset the risk and cost of damages.

Here are the top cybersecurity threats facing educational institutions in 2021 and 2022:

  • Phishing attacks – Email attacks continue to be the attack vector against educational institutions. Business email compromise, malware, ransomware, and account take attacks exploit the email channel. Many phishing attacks coincide with social engineering, whaling phishing against university chancellors and research department heads. Phishing emails also target students threatening them with extortion and other online threats. Many educational institutes started to alter the naming convention of their faculty email addresses to help stop phishing attacks.
  • Ransomware- Many elementary, middle, high, and university schools suffered from the impact of ransomware attacks crippling school districts. Many school officials acquired cybersecurity insurance to deal with damages and costs to protect the district systems.
  • Recently, announced in the press, one of the largest school districts in the United States, the Los Angeles unified school district, fell victim to a massive ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks are not new in school districts. This recent attack’s silver lining came about by mobilization of local, state, and Federal law enforcement resources. FBI, Department of homeland security, Los Angeles county district attorney’s office, and other agencies mobilized to assist the school in capturing vital cyber forensics data along with helping in restoring their systems.
  • Data exfiltration – Outbound data exfiltration, especially with university research material and intellectual property, is a massive problem for the education sector. In 2019 – 2021, universities worldwide were targeted by hacking groups focusing on data exfiltration. Universities continue to invest in data loss prevention(DLP) and email encryption to protect their data from being stolen through email channels.
  • Human error – Even with adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning for cybersecurity, employee error and student not following security policies continue to lead to several security breaches. Password sharing, leaving devices around the campus unsecured, and sending out confidential information over Gmail and other services all impact the education institution’s ability to protect their data.

Trustifi’s holistic email security platform alignment with education
Trustifi’s holistic email security service offers several capabilities for education clients including one-click compliance for email encryption, data loss prevention, inbound and outbound phishing, malware protection, and email-managed detection and response offering.

  • The Trustifi Inbound Shield™ is cloud-based, easy to install, and doesn’t require any architecture changes. You get peace of mind that your emails are protected from suspicious emails and zero-day attacks without any complex setup or concerns about missing email messages. Plus, it deploys in minutes, not days.
  • The Trustifi Outbound Shield automatically scans with an enhanced security engine and encrypts outgoing email messages according to administrators’ policies, so any emails that contain sensitive information are automatically secured.
  • The Trustifi One-click for compliance for encryption. With the One-Click Compliance tool, administrators can easily set the platform to screen emails to ensure they automatically comply with more than ten regulatory compliance guidelines, including PCI-DSS, GPDR, CCPA, NIST-800-53, FERPA, and ISO 27000 series.
  • The Trustifi Data Loss Prevention. The system automatically scans outgoing emails and applies the rules set by your administrator, then finds the keywords and automatically encrypts and locks the relevant outgoing emails without any input from the user.

Simplifying the email protection experience

More education institutes have altered their traditional email security strategy into a more holistic and consolidated approach. Along with simplifying email security operations, many schools have leveraged email cybersecurity vendors that offer a much easier end-user experience.

The need for greater email security to deal with phishing and ransomware has never been greater. The need to make the user experience easier is also paramount. Every user capability, including sending and receiving messages, encrypting emails based on a DLP rule, and finding lost messages, is a positive strategy to change the current email security culture. If a user has difficulty encrypting a statement, in most cases, they will still send the message in the clear, possibly exposing sensitive data.

Compliance and privacy mandates
Any organization that stores student information, social security numbers, contact information, and financial data must follow FERPA regulations. Colleges, high schools, elementary schools, and vocational schools fall under FERPA compliance. Internal and publicly accessible systems must have the proper access controls and cybersecurity technology to reduce the impact of a data breach.

Along with FERPA, educational institutions need to comply with several other mandates, including:

HIPPA – This rule applies to organizations that receive federal funding. Organizations need to enable a security strategy for HIPAA regulatory compliance. Healthcare providers include medical facilities, hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, dentists, pharmacies, laboratories, nursing homes, hospices, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, ambulance services, public health departments, schools, universities, research institutions, state governments, tribal governments, military bases, correctional facilities, veterans’ medical centers, and other similar types of entities.

PCI-DSS – All credit card payment systems must complete a monthly PCI audit. The entire payment card ecosystem, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, and security controls, is validated during a PCI compliance audit. Depending on the number of transactions, some organizations may be subject to monthly audits. Unprotected email transmitting credit card numbers received and sent by email and web browser caches have become hackers’ targets.

Comprehensive protection with Trustifi email security
Educational institutes continue to be challenged with legacy email security solutions relying on interoperation between vendors to work correctly. Trustifi, a global leader in the cloud-based email security market, consolidates all protection controls into one platform. Trustifi’s international experience in the education market is a proven leader in stopping real-world threats, phishing attacks, spear phishing emails, and business compromise email impostor accounts.

Trustifi single console for ease-of-use management

With a limited IT and security staff at most educational institutions, the clients need security solutions to manage more efficiently while meeting HIPAA, PCI, and other compliance mandates.

Trustifi’s email security services feature a comprehensive suite of email tools for advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, and enterprise email encryption.

  • Enables email authentication for both inbound and outbound emails.
  • Protects against data loss from outbound emails.
  • Enables rapid response to threats and sophisticated threats and attacks.
  • Advanced Threat Protection against malware attacks
  • Detection and prevention of email-borne threats and spam emails
  • Spoofing, phishing, and fraud detection
  • Email account compromise
  • Zero-day threats

With Trustifi vendor consolidation and reduction of resource cost allocation, they align with the needs of the educational institutions while not compromising on email protection, all with a single pricing model.

Trustifi continues to add capabilities to stop potential threats, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and threat intelligence, into its platform to help future-proof protection for its clients without adding additional complexity when enabling these new services.

Trustifi offers consolidated solution pricing for better cost savings to support the education marketplace. Trustifi requires fewer security operations, time allocation, and management resources. The solution is API based, not an appliance requiring a complex re-configuration of your email flow. Trustifi installs in minutes and requires no maintenance or upkeep. Trustifi’s Email detection and response (EMDR) offers clients access to experts to assist with the implementation.

As a global cybersecurity provider of both inbound and outbound email protection, Trustifi currently supports customers from countries including the USA, Canada, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the UK, the Netherlands, India, the UAE, China, Japan, Cyprus, the Philippines, and more. The company has also developed “One-Click Compliance” capabilities that cater to world security regulations, including PDPO for Hong Kong, POPI for South Africa, GDPR for Europe, and LGPD for Brazil.