Hybrid cloud environments have evolved significantly in recent years, spurred by the shift to remote learning during the pandemic. Many early adopters limited their use of cloud services to long-term storage for backup data. But over time, IT professionals have become more comfortable with relying on cloud service providers.
Today, schools have become more comfortable with moving applications to the cloud. They’re adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to fulfill many online learning and digital workspace needs. The widespread migration of data and workloads to cloud environments has greatly changed the storage and security considerations of many schools as they consider their approach to data protection.
As cloud environments become more widespread and complex, many K–12 IT teams face challenges understanding them. Some IT professionals believe that because their data and workloads reside in the cloud, they are inherently protected from cyberthreats.
However, any cloud environment has its own security requirements and backup needs. Data still must be protected, even if it resides in a highly resilient platform such as the cloud.
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Build Protections for K–12 Data Stored in the Cloud
Schools can take steps to better protect their cloud-based data and applications.
First, they should understand the need for protection. K–12 data is very valuable, and it remains vulnerable even in SaaS platforms, where it can be targeted by attackers. IT teams should use security applications to protect their data and separate backup data from their production environments, even if they reside in the cloud.
For example, many K–12 schools have adopted Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace for Education, shutting down the on-premises versions of their applications. But IT leaders must still take steps to protect their data, even if it resides in Google or Microsoft clouds.
In its licensing agreements, Microsoft recommends that organizations use third-party applications to protect their data. Many providers offer their own easy-to-use, SaaS-based applications for that purpose. ManagedMethods is a K–12 education-specific cloud access security broker that schools can use to keep data safe. It works with Microsoft or Google districts, as well as with schools that use both cloud platforms.
Schools also should consider tools to improve their cyber recovery capabilities. They should find tested, trusted data protection applications that use a multilayered security approach (including tools such as multifactor authentication and time source validation) and provide immutable storage capabilities.
LEARN MORE: How Backup as a Service boosts data protection.
Protect Data to Benefit Schools’ Cyber Recovery Capabilities
To help K–12 environments with data protection, administrators must understand the benefits they can expect from adopting the right tools. The most important benefit is cyber recovery. By improving the security of their data protection solutions, schools can expect a much quicker recovery if they are hit by cyberattacks. This minimizes downtime and makes the return to learning smoother for staff and students.
Ultimately, in a security environment where cyberthreats are so widespread, recovery is an essential capability. K–12 institutions should take steps to protect data in their hybrid cloud environments and bolster their recovery capabilities.
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Illustration by Sey Yassine