May 19 2022

3 Insights to Share with Your School on Data Protection in the Cloud

Schools are using cloud tech, but do users understand its limits? Find out how you can clear up confusion and keep data safe.

Working in the cloud comes with many benefits for K–12 schools. Educators can provide feedback in real time, students can work together from anywhere and cloud technologies even help declutter classrooms. And that’s just with Software as a Service (SaaS), like Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Workspace.

Schools are also finding benefits to transitioning their data centers to the cloud. Infrastructure as a Service solutions, like those from Amazon Web Services, allow schools to continue operating safely in the event of a natural disaster or a pandemic.

Click the banner to learn how one school district transitioned to the cloud with the help of CDW•G.

With this long list of benefits, it’s no surprise cloud technology is a trend that continues to grow in K–12 districts.

Yet, according to a recent survey from Veritas Technologies, many employees don’t understand the full functionality of the cloud technologies they’re using. The study’s report notes that “92 percent thought their cloud provider would be able to restore their files for them.”

With many districts operating in the cloud, it’s important for staff to understand the limits of the technology’s data protection abilities. IT teams, likewise, should be aware of potential missteps and misunderstandings by school staff. This will allow them to implement cybersecurity guidelines, monitor for mistakes and invest in software that protects data.

Here are three insights IT administrators should communicate to district staff about data security in the cloud.

1. Cloud Providers Don’t Store Copies of Deleted Data

As many as 56 percent of employees surveyed admitted to having deleted files hosted in cloud. These files — such as presentations, documents and spreadsheets — aren’t more easily recovered because they’re stored in the cloud.

MORE ON EDTECH: What is the impact of cloud computing in K–12 education?

IT teams must make it clear to K–12 staff members that it is their responsibility, not the cloud providers’, to keep track of documents and other crucial data. Cloud providers don’t keep copies, and they typically can’t restore something that’s been accidentally erased.

“52% of respondents to our survey said they’d accidentally deleted a file in the cloud and were never able to get it back,” Simon Jelley, general manager of SaaS protection at Veritas, said in a news release.

2. Employees Must Act Quickly If They Delete Cloud Data

There’s a limited window of time in which files can sometimes be recovered if they are deleted from the cloud, says Jelley. Because of this, IT professionals should encourage district employees to admit their mistake quickly. This increases the chances of recovering the lost or corrupted files.

To do this, IT leaders should create an open line of communication and establish trust with their colleagues. The survey found that 35 percent of employees would lie to hide that they had accidentally deleted cloud data and that 30 percent would keep quiet out of shame. Trust between the IT team and staff can alleviate some of these concerns to better recover and protect data.

LEARN MORE: This California school district decentralized its IT support.

3. Data Isn’t Safer from Ransomware in the Cloud

While some schools may have cloud data protection measures in place, many cloud providers don’t provide cybersecurity guarantees for documents or data.


The percentage of office workers who assume data in the cloud is safer from ransomware because cloud providers offer malware protections

Source: “New Research Shows Human Error, Embarrassment and Ransomware Combine to Undermine the Benefits of Cloud Adoption,” Nov. 16, 2021

“The truth is that, as part of their standard service, most cloud providers only provide guarantee of resiliency of their service, they do not provide guarantees that a customer, using their service, will have their data protected,” Jelley said in the release. “In fact, many go as far as to have shared-responsibility models in their terms and conditions, which make it clear that the customer’s data is their responsibility to protect.”

School IT teams must communicate the continued importance of vigilant cybersecurity measures when it comes to cloud technologies. To mitigate potential breaches due to misinformed staff members, IT departments can turn to cloud protection solutions from providers such as Palo Alto Networks and Veritas.

Making sure K–12 district staffers are aware of the limits of cloud technology will help them take full advantage of the benefits. Establishing a culture of trust and open communication will build the security schools need to keep data protected in the cloud.

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