How To Protect Your University Blog From Cybercriminals

May 2, 2018 by

Cybercrime is a growing concern for universities. Since many schools offer their students hosting to create blogs and websites, cybercriminals have taken notice. They are finding vulnerabilities in blogging platforms like wordpress installs on university servers. Some universities have many installs and other software on their servers. As an IT admin, there are many preventive actions that you can take to protect your institution’s blogs and website platforms. In this post, we’ll provide a number of steps that universities should promote along with use of their IT infrastructure.

Implement A Strict Password Policy

Universities should have the highest standards of password level security. This is a basic concept of internet safety for universities. Especially to login to web-based platforms, backend software or databases, weak passwords can be cracked with automated software. Using a brute-force attack or similar approach, cybercriminals can gain access to accounts and cause a lot of damage for a university. Ensure that every user has long passwords consisting of 8-16 characters. The characters should include uppercase, lowercase, symbols and numbers. This level of password security will mitigate one of the major risks of managing university websites.

Install Security Scanning Software

While most universities have a firewall in place, they can also benefit from malware scanners. Especially for open source platforms like wordpress, there are many options to scan your website for any malware. These scans are essential to detecting any risks or hacks that have been made in the past. Of course, a previous hack could put your school’s information at risk. You should work hard to make sure there are malware scripts on your servers at any time. As a result, a scanning solution can ensure that nothing goes unnoticed on your university’s servers. This is a great way to keep all of your users on campus safe from hackers.

Follow Standard Software Maintenance

Every IT backend requires regular updates and maintenance. Your IT team should take every update very seriously across all systems. This will keep your security high because many of these updates are to protect your systems. Furthermore, you should take steps to clean up wordpress websites by clearing out unused files, plugins or themes that are not being used. Of course, if you have any old programs or scripts, they should be removed so they do not create an opportunity for hackers to gain access to your website back end.

Stop Using FTP Authorization

Still, many universities use FTP credentials for transferring files to remote servers. This method of authentication is not encrypted. Hackers can snoop on this information and gain access to login details. As an alternative, have all users connect with secure connections like SSH. Or, setup a well configured VPN or private cloud computing network so that any user can have a direct connection with the server. Solutions like these prevent unencrypted information from falling into the wrong hands. Hackers would have a much harder time stealing login details when your university keeps all transfer login details encrypted.

Take Backups Regularly

Additionally, universities should be taking backups frequently. Sometimes, you can take all of the steps, but you need a backup just in case. Even if your university blog or website does not get hacked, a recent backup can solve issues related to any downtime or data corruption. In the event of a breach, it might be very difficult to gain access to your systems if a cyber criminal has taken control. Instead of having to pay ransom or meet demands, a backup could help you get up and running again quickly. Still, you will have to notify all users who may have experienced privacy violations or information theft. A strong backup strategy is essential to preventing cybercriminals from further exploiting universities if a vulnerability gets exploited.

Universities blogs and websites are a key component of an educational institution. When these websites are hosted on the institution’s servers, they can be a target for hackers. Fortunately, there are many ways to deter cybercriminals from gaining access to your school’s IT infrastructure on any front. Start by doing the basics right and implementing secure passwords. Then, scan for any existing threats that could become an issue. Maintain your software and platforms regularly. They should all be kept up to date for increased security. Moreover, have all users encrypt their information when authenticating with university servers. Finally, take backups of entire servers just in case the worse does happen. These steps will help your university protect itself against cyber criminals.

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