Jul 13 2023

4 Tips to Improve Data Loss Prevention in K–12

Here’s how schools can improve their approach to managing critical data.

Schools store, handle and transmit some of the most sensitive data that exists about people, including grades, health status, addresses, Social Security numbers and even financial information. And that data is under siege: 29 percent of school and district members of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center have reported being victims of a cyber incident, some of which included data breaches.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s recent report, “Protecting Our Future: Partnering to Safeguard K–12 Organizations From Cybersecurity Threats,” pointed to a host of challenges that can impede data loss prevention efforts. Chief among them is a “lack of resources [which] creates challenges in adoption of cybersecurity practices, deciding on appropriate policies and broadly implementing a strong baseline of defenses.”

But data loss prevention technology can help IT leaders get better control over their data by identifying and stopping potential leaks before they occur. Try these tips for optimizing your DLP solution:

Click the banner to access customized infrastructure content when you register as an Insider.

1. Strengthen DLP System Visibility Across K-12 Schools

DLP technology only works when it can see the data it needs to protect. In an ideal environment, this means combining endpoint DLP agents with network-based sensors and cloud-focused enforcement points. The greater visibility that the DLP solution has into your enterprise IT environment, the more likely it will be to spot and stop a potential leak.

2. Define Permissions and Set Access Controls in K-12 Districts

The principle of least privilege is a pillar of information security for a good reason: It works. Individuals with access to sensitive student records should have permission to access only the records they need to do their jobs. Cafeteria staff probably don’t need access to students’ medical information. It’s unlikely that a student’s music teachers will need to see his or her financial history. Lock down records to limit access, and you’ll reduce the impact of a potential breach.

EXPLORE: What is bit rot and will it affect K–12 data storage?

3. Deploy a Cross-Platform Solution in Your K-12 Environment

Educators and administrators can bring their devices anywhere, and that means that your school’s data lives in many locations. Make sure that your DLP technology supports all of the school-issued and personal laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile devices that process your school’s data.

4. Enhance Schoolwide User Education for Your Students

Use DLP as an educational opportunity. Many security incidents are the result of user error rather than intentional malice. Create automated educational opportunities following any event that triggers your DLP system. For example, if a user is blocked from sending an unencrypted email containing Social Security numbers, follow up with an email or short video explaining what happened in more detail to help the user understand how to work securely.

Michael Austin/Theispot

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.