Technology plays a vital role in the way we work, learn, and collaborate with one another. Whether it’s collaborating on a project or conducting remote lessons via a virtual classroom, information technology has become essential to our daily lives. While the use of technology in the private sector has been commonplace for a while now, it has grown exponentially in local schools and municipalities over the course of the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This change has highlighted the many benefits of implementing technology in these sectors but has also brought to light some challenges as well.
Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) who understands the unique needs of schools and local governments can help resolve some of these challenges – from security to functionality and beyond. We’ve outlined 5 of the most common challenges local government programs and school systems face when it comes to IT and how an MSP can help.
Having a Functional Cloud for Remote Working/Learning
As many schools were forced to adopt a fully remote or hybrid approach to learning over the course of the last year, laptops, smartphones, and tablets have become essential to the education and collaboration process. Cloud-based applications allow students, teachers and employees to collaborate on learning materials or projects, meet over video chat, and access documents and assignments in real-time without the need for a VPN tunnel.
However, without a functional cloud environment in place, the experience can be quite disjointed. Managed service providers can work with you to help select the right-sized atmosphere for your needs and ensure that all of your applications and collaboration tools are hosted in a secure environment.
Tight Security When Working With Unsupervised Employees/ Students
Many institutions had to implement remote solutions quickly to meet the needs of their students and employees while complying with government-mandated safety regulations at the start of the pandemic early last year. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the influx of e-learning and remote collaboration tools, which aren’t always deployed with security as the primary concern. In fact, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against e-learning platforms increased 80% in 2020 alone.
Managed service providers understand the security concerns plaguing schools and municipalities and can help implement best practices to lock down your environment from hackers without sacrificing accessibility to students and remote workers.
Phishing Awareness Testing
Email phishing scams are the leading cause of security breaches across the United States. In these types of attacks, cybercriminals leverage socially engineered campaigns to trick students and staff into opening emails and clicking a link or attachment embedded with malware to access Personally Identifiable Information (PII), infiltrate a network and more.
One of the simplest things schools and local government agencies can do to minimize the impact of a phishing attack is to educate their students or employees. Managed service providers can offer training information on how to spot a suspicious email, what to do if you think you’ve received a phishing email, and can even deploy a staged phishing attack to gauge awareness and help further educate users.
Keeping Devices Up-to-Date With Software Patches
Keeping up to date with software patches on network equipment, laptops, and applications is one of the safest ways to ensure your e-learning or remote work environment is as secure as possible. These critical updates are created by manufacturers to address known vulnerabilities, enhance features, and ensure compliance guidelines are met.
Leveraging a patch management solution through your MSP will not only ensure that every device within your organization is getting the patches they need on a regular basis, but it can also help ensure that patches are vetted before being implemented throughout your environment.
Protecting Remote & E-Learning Devices
Devices used for e-learning and remote work need to be protected to reduce the likelihood of a cybersecurity attack that can spread throughout your organization or breach proprietary information. Every day, at least 350,000 new malicious programs are detected. Protecting all devices with antivirus software is critical to maintaining student, staff, and network security.
Managed service providers can help develop a plan for implementing a secure antivirus solution across your environment and ensure that it stays current with any critical patches that may be developed.
Peters & Associates is an award-winning Chicago-based managed service provider that offers comprehensive support packages tailored specifically to the local government and education sectors. We can support your district with a range of services, including monitoring and support, server and network management, end-user assistance, and security services. Our team has the knowledge and expertise to help boost productivity and connectivity while maintaining security and compliance best practices.
To learn more about our work in schools, visit our IT in Education page.