How to Address the Top Digital Threats Facing Education Institutions


For educational institutions at every level, from elementary, middle, high school and college, the explosion of social media and the digital landscape represents a fundamental shift in the way schools engage with students and how students engage with each other. Printed report cards have been replaced by online learning management systems while students begin engaging on social media as early as 12 years old on average.

ZeroFox recently published a whitepaper focused specifically on the new challenges and risks that these and other digital platforms represent for schools and universities. From physical threats of violence or bullying originating on social media to intellectual property leakage across surface, deep and dark web, education institutions face unique digital threats that did not exist 10 years prior.

Here are 3 of the top threats you’ll find in the new ZeroFox whitepaper:

Physical Safety

70% of students have reported experiencing bullying online. Physical threats, including violence, self-harm, and bullying, often manifest themselves online before an actual attack takes place. We understand that as administrators, security professionals, teachers and staff the safety of students and whole campuses is critical. Threats of violence that don’t materialize into actual acts of violence still cause significant harm, including causing students and staff to feel unsafe at school.

Identifying early warning signs of potential attacks can help with prevention and attack response. In today’s digital realm, it’s important to incorporate these digital threats into your larger physical security program. This includes investing in visibility into digital channels the same way you invest in visibility of physical threats through a monitoring system.

Data Breaches and Intellectual Property Exposure

In 2017, data breaches in the education sector jumped 167%. Education institutions hold massive amounts of data, from student and faculty information to proprietary research. For universities, protecting intellectual property from leakage and unauthorized sharing and selling is of particular concern.

Defense in depth strategies from a network and host security sense are always going to be the first step for data breach prevention. Identifying leaked information on digital platforms such as the deep and dark web, however, immediately strengthen traditional data loss prevention programs.

Impersonation and Community Protection

Whether you’re a member of the marketing or security team, identifying fake accounts on social media pretending to be your university, staff, sports teams and more is critical for protecting students, alumni networks and whole communities.

Monitoring your school’s digital presence will reveal potential attacks made against administration, students, campuses, alumni, and followers of your school. ZeroFox Alpha Team has years of research that show how easy it is to conduct attacks on social and digital channels. These attacks are done via simple methods of impersonation and basic phishing pages, which yielded higher click rates than phishing emails.

Read the full whitepaper

Learn more about these threats and others in the full whitepaper, “Addressing Top Digital Threats Facing Education Institutions” here. Interested in learning more about how ZeroFox can help your internal teams combat these threats? Schedule a conversation with an expert today.