“We need to be taking these cyber-attacks on schools as seriously as we do physical attacks on critical infrastructure. Schools are the infrastructure of learning in America.” – Dr. Miguel Cardona, United States Secretary of Education
World-class security and secure learning experiences are pillars that guide how Microsoft approaches cybersecurity in education. We recognize that cybersecurity is a top concern across this nation—from IT professionals who provide frontline support to technology decision makers that purchase services—and our solutions reflect both their needs as well as our expertise as a leading security company.
Microsoft cybersecurity solutions for schools are extensive, efficient, and customizable to the most demanding IT needs or federal requirements. The Microsoft 365 Education A5 plan is our most robust security package with unified tools that prevent and detect threats, safeguard data, and provide device management with security policy implementation.
When schools choose Microsoft 365 Education A5, they receive a Gartner-recognized security suite that replaces as many as 26 separate vendors—a budget-conscious savings that’s realized year after year.
Proactive steps to stay secure
The first few steps to keeping accounts and devices secure are simple and extremely effective. In just a few moments, you can help prevent identity attacks and harmful viruses.
Turn on Multifactor Authentication (MFA) for all staff and educators. Multifactor authentication provides an extra barrier and layer of security that makes it incredibly difficult for attackers to get past. Download Microsoft Authenticator for simple, fast, and highly secure two-factor authentication across your apps.
Use antivirus and antimalware protection. Malware attacks are rampant in education. Tools like Microsoft Defender help keep you and your schools’ devices safe from harm.
Regularly update your apps. Programs are constantly improving their resiliency to become more secure. Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge offer you the choice of when and how to get the latest updates to keep your devices running smoothly and securely. Additionally, Microsoft Intune for Education can be used to push updates in many cases.
Defend against threats
While large-scale, high-cost attacks are a concern, it's equally crucial to address the ongoing threats that schools face, such as social engineering tactics that involve phishing messages and malware.
The Microsoft Defender family of products in the Microsoft 365 Education A5 plan is a suite of tools that detect, prevent, and remediate cyber-threats that impact schools. It includes:
- Microsoft 365 Defender: An extended detection and response (XDR) suite that helps secure endpoints and network devices, safeguard Office 365 products, and manage user access and identities. Defender prevents many types of cross-domain attacks while simultaneously allowing IT professionals to hunt down emerging threats. See how Microsoft 365 Defender is a complete XDR solution for schools.
- Microsoft 365 Defender for Cloud: An XDR tool in the Defender suite that manages, prioritizes, and remediates critical risks in cloud-based platforms. Built-in workflows and unified dashboards allow security teams to efficiently maintain multi-cloud or hybrid environments from day one all the way to the present. Learn how Defender for the Cloud protects digitally connected school environments.
- The Defender family of products also includes Defender for Endpoint, Defender for Office 365, and Defender for Identity.
Dr. Emily Bell, Chief Information Officer for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, GA, uses the Defender suite to protect the 10,000 employees and 95,000 students that learn in their schools. All the tools have helped her team create a cybersecurity posture that’s ready to address whatever cyber-threats might emerge.
“Cyber-incidents happen every day, all day. Our tools and our threat hunters set out to contain and eradicate them. As IT leaders, we’re used to just resolving problems before end users even know about them.” – Dr. Emily Bell, CIO, Fulton County Schools
Keep student data safe
Schools store huge amounts of sensitive data across systems which means that knowing where data lives, how it’s used and accessed, and what to do to comply with laws are essential understandings for every IT administrator.
Microsoft Purview is a comprehensive governance, protection, and compliance solution that secures school data. Purview provides complete data visibility across platforms, apps, and clouds while offering unparalleled protection—even if data lives on non-Microsoft systems. It features tools like eDiscovery and Insider Risk Management for auditing, investigating, and acting on events that pose risks to school data as well as policy management for establishing secure computing environments.
Microsoft Purview’s Data Loss Prevention generates alerts with rich details for taking informed, corrective actions.
Purview also includes Data Loss Prevention which gives schools intelligent control over sensitive information across Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams for Education, or endpoint devices. Data Loss Prevention alerts IT departments when it recognizes risky activities and then automatically protects data through Adaptive Protection policies that dynamically mitigate security incidents. The insights from machine learning analysis save time so that IT teams can focus on other critical needs.
Adaptive Protection in Microsoft Purview dynamically applies policies to prevent data loss from risky activities, suspect files, and events.
Learn how to safeguard data across platforms, apps, and clouds and improve risk and compliance posture with Microsoft Purview.
Simplify device management and deployment
More schools are adopting 1:1 computing programs so that students of all ages have direct access to devices while learning. The large influx of new devices and ongoing refresh cycles require IT departments to efficiently configure, maintain, and secure each new addition to a school’s ecosystem.
Microsoft Intune for Education simplifies deployment and security for all types of devices—even non-Windows operating systems like MacOS and iOS. Intune uses a web-based dashboard that streamlines initial configuration and allows you to remotely set up, manage, and assist students and teachers with their devices. Security is a cornerstone of Intune for Education; IT professionals can apply security policies to protect users, update policies when necessary, and schedule automatic updates when the school day ends or learning stops. Get started now on moving your school to a cloud-based solution.
School Data Sync is a tool that securely connects data from school information systems (SIS) to Microsoft 365 and other applications. It enables easy rostering and flexible integration through the OneRoster® API or CSV files for a worry-free set up experience with apps like Microsoft Teams for Education and Intune for Education. School Data Sync also enables single sign-on (SSO) options for a more secure sign-in experience.
Districts like St. Lucie Public Schools use Microsoft solutions to handle their 1:1 computing program and ensure security measures are in place before devices reach students.
“The cloud-based solution allows us to support cybersecurity from afar. Even while we are inside our district office, we can push out things like virus definitions to home networks to make sure that students’ data are safe." – Terence O’Leary, Chief Operating Officer for St. Lucie Public Schools
Take time to explore all the security options that are available in the Microsoft 365 Education A5 plan and learn how Microsoft Education can help you accelerate learning in a safe, secure school environment. Together, we can build a resilient defense against cyber-threats and foster an environment where everyone’s learning can flourish.