Security hacks are a major concern in the IoT space. More network devices mean more endpoints that need to be secured, and schools and other educational institutions need to do a better job of preventing cyberattacks against teachers and students in particular and learning facilities in general. Here we talk about a few key security measures that schools and universities should have in place to ensure that their IoT devices are not compromised.
Securing Your IT Infrastructure
There are many things you must watch for when securing your IT infrastructure. As the use of smart devices in classroom settings increases, teachers, students, parents, and administrators should be aware of the different ways that malicious attacks can occur – and how they can be prevented. Here are some of the more important steps you should take to secure your data and networks – and ultimately your students and teachers.
Change Your Router’s Default Settings
First, be sure to change the default name and password on your school or classroom router. The factory-given name of your device can expose the make and model of your router, making it easier for cybercriminals and hackers to gain access to your devices and entry to your network.
When choosing a school router name and password, follow well-known safe password protocols. Do not use names, words, phrases, or numbers that can be easily guessed, and don’t choose anything that can reveal sensitive information.
As a general rule, administrators should not transmit sensitive information on a public network. Instruct your students to refrain from doing the same. They should know to not shop online using the school’s WiFi or share personal data on unfamiliar websites or with unknown entities.
Perform Routine Updates and Service Checks
If you are in the habit of clicking the “Update Later” option whenever prompted to run a system update, now would be a good time to change that habit. IoT devices must be updated regularly with the latest version of the developer’s software or firmware release. Updates will also ensure you are protected from new virus variations and known vulnerabilities. As long as hackers actively seek out system issues, you must vigilantly safeguard your system’s entryways as well.
Disable UPnP Features
Many IoT devices have Universal Plugin and Play (UPnP) features, which enables multiple devices to connect with very little or no installation at all. For example, a smart microphone can be connected to a student’s mobile device and it will run as soon as it establishes a connection via Bluetooth or a USB port. While this is convenient, it poses several security risks. When hackers discover one device, they may find it easier to discover more devices, and since smart devices are connected, it can be easier for a hacker to enter a wider network after penetrating a low-level device that was improperly secured. Devices with UPnP features usually allow you to disable the UPnP feature in the settings panel, so be sure to do so to protect your wider network and other connected devices from unauthorized access.
Other Security Tips to Protect Your IoT System
Here are a few additional tips on securing your systems from unauthorized access.
- Choose the right security bundle for your systems based on your needs. If you use computers, tablets, smartphones, and printers, your security solution should secure all of these devices. The best security packages provide real-time protection against new and existing threats, including malware, viruses, ransomware, and other cyberattacks.
- Do your research on IoT devices before you buy them. You should know the types of data that each device collects and whether information that is collected or transmitted in any way by a given device is shared with any third-party entities that you may not agree to. Also, read the developer or manufacturer’s policies regarding data protection and information loss.
- If there is data of any kind that a device or application intends to access, only allow access if that data is needed for the application to run. If it is not needed, then simply deny permission.
- Regularly update your device software and monitor news regarding data breaches and vulnerabilities that may affect you.
The Final Word
The bottom line for teachers, students, and administrators is that it is up to you to protect your school network, all your connected devices, and your IoT systems. Modern IoT devices are easy to set up and install, but you must take the security of your network seriously since these devices are known targets for hackers and cybercriminals. The security tips and recommendations we’ve discussed serve as a guide for school administrators and others running IoT education systems to ensure the safety of confidential information and network devices.
While IoT systems provide numerous benefits in the education space, students, parents, teachers, and administrators must take care of their devices and be careful of how they share and secure data on a personal level to ensure that the wider network does not suffer an attack or breach.
If you are looking to improve how students, parents, and teachers coordinate and work together toward reaching student learning goals, now is the time to redesign your school’s smart device and connectivity strategy. The Solutions Engineers at Kajeet can help you get started with a secure education connectivity initiative. Contact us here for a consultation with one of our Education IoT Solution Engineers.