Being at risk for cyber-attacks is a growing concern among small-district administrators. Cybercriminals often target small districts because they hold sensitive information and have weaker security infrastructures than larger districts. For this reason and more, it should be no surprise that 88% of small-district administrators feel vulnerable to a cyber-attack, according to a recent survey.
To protect your district and your students, you must implement strong cyber security practices. You need to run your teachers and other faculty through annual cyber security training so they know the newest cyberthreats and how to avoid putting schools at risk. You should also utilize a firewall, back up your data on all computers, secure your WiFi networks and ensure your entire team understands the importance of strong passwords. To give your district an extra layer of protection, though, you can get cyber insurance coverage.
Cyber insurance, often called cyber liability insurance, covers the damage your district suffers if you’re the victim of a cyber-attack or data breach. Here are a few areas where having cyber insurance can help.
Imagine that a cybercriminal gains access to sensitive information, such as your teachers’ Social Security numbers or your students’ personal information. You know the release of this information could cause irreparable harm to your business, and you’re willing to pay whatever it costs to prevent this from happening. This is the goal of ransomware attacks. Hackers threaten to publish sensitive information or lock you out of vital programs if you don’t pay them. Cyber insurance will help you pay the ransom.
If sensitive information gets stolen from your district, you have a legal obligation to inform your teachers and students. The average cost of notifying students, teachers, and families of a breach and other post-breach responses is $1.72 million, according to the Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study. That’s a cost most small schools cannot afford, but cyber insurance will help cover it.
If your district becomes the victim of a data breach, you’re going to want to get that information back. Your policy can protect you and your faculty members from identity theft, as your insurance provider may pay for identity recovery services. These are invaluable services, since data and identity recovery can take years to handle on your own.
Cyber insurance can also help cover the costs of teacher and parent lawsuits after a data breach, lost income due to network outages and even regulatory fines. Most cyber insurance policies come with exclusions to which you need to pay attention. Your policy will probably not cover attacks that happened before your coverage started, future profits affected by a data breach or the loss of valuation after a cyber-attack.
But how do you get cyber insurance for your schools? You have to meet certain qualifications to get a policy, due to the rise in cyber-attacks and cyber security awareness. Every cyber insurance provider will look at the strength of your network security before considering your business for coverage. If your network is weak and at a high risk of being targeted, they are not going to take a chance on you.
Your district requires cyber security compliance, make sure you’re compliant. If you’re not, cyber insurance providers won’t even give your schools a second thought before rejecting your application for coverage. This shouldn’t be an issue, as most districts stay compliant, but double-check your requirements to ensure all your bases are covered.
If you’re considering cyber insurance but are worried about the cost, you can do a few things to make it more affordable. Cyber insurance providers like to provide coverage to schools that are proactive with cyber security practices. Implementing an incident response plan will show providers your district has procedures in place to handle emergencies if they arise. Researching all third parties you work with and showing they have strong cyber security practices will also benefit you.
Cyber insurance can be an incredibly beneficial cyber security element to add to your district. As new cyber-attacks and threats continue to develop, it’s essential to get all of the protection you possibly can.