Securing School Networks and Protecting Students

In an era where digital integration is fundamental to education, securing school networks and protecting students from cyber threats has become a critical priority. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), there has been a significant increase in cyber incidents targeting Australian schools. In the 2022-23 financial year, nearly 94,000 cybercrime reports were submitted, marking a 23% increase compared to the previous year.

Emerging Cyber Threats in Australian Schools

  1. Phishing Attacks: Phishing continues to be a major threat, with cybercriminals targeting school staff and students to steal sensitive information or distribute malware. The ACSC has noted a significant rise in such attacks, reflecting the growing digital footprint in education.

  1. Ransomware: Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common, with schools being prime targets. These attacks can encrypt critical data, demanding a ransom for its release, and often result in severe operational disruptions. In the past year, ransomware incidents have impacted numerous educational institutions across Australia, leading to substantial financial and data losses.

  1. Data Breaches: Schools collect vast amounts of personal data, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) reported several large-scale data breaches in the first half of 2023, with 21 out of 23 breaches affecting over 5,000 Australians being caused by cyber incidents.

  1. Unsecured Remote Learning Platforms: The shift to remote learning has introduced vulnerabilities in online platforms. Cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses to launch attacks, compromising both data security and the integrity of online classes.

Key Strategies for Securing School Networks

  1. Implement Robust Firewalls and Antivirus Software: Protecting school networks with up-to-date firewalls and antivirus software is essential. These tools help detect and prevent malicious activities, safeguarding the network from various threats.

  1. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management: Keeping software and systems updated is crucial. Regularly applying patches and updates fixes vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.

  1. Access Controls: Limit access to sensitive information and critical systems. Implement role-based access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel can access specific data and applications.

  1. Backup Data Regularly: Regularly back up all critical data and store it securely. In the event of a ransomware attack, having backups can ensure that data can be restored without paying a ransom.

The Importance of Awareness Training

  1. Educate Staff and Students: Awareness training is essential in fostering a culture of cyber security. Regular training sessions can educate staff and students about the latest cyber threats, how to recognise them, and best practices for staying safe online.

  1. Simulated Phishing Exercises: Conduct simulated phishing exercises to test the vigilance of staff and students. These exercises can help identify areas where further education is needed and reinforce the importance of cyber security awareness.

  1. Policy and Procedure Updates: Regularly update and communicate school policies and procedures related to cyber security. Ensure that all staff and students are aware of their roles and responsibilities in maintaining a secure digital environment.


As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, Australian schools must take proactive measures to secure their networks and protect students. Implementing robust security practices, keeping systems updated, and prioritising awareness training are critical steps in mitigating cyber risks.

For schools seeking a comprehensive solution, Cybermate offers the first affordable cyber awareness and training app designed specifically for Australian schools. Cybermate provides tailored training for both staff and students, helping to build a resilient cybersecurity culture within educational institutions.

Get in touch to learn more about how Cybermate can support your school’s cyber security needs.

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