Multifactor Authentication (MFA) in Education: Protecting Compromised Student Accounts

Student working on a surface laptop that has multifactor authentication MFA protection.

Without the right security layers in place, malicious actors can gain access to a school’s network to launch attacks that can shutdown the entire network overnight or put sensitive student data at risk. One crucial element to a strong cybersecurity defense for the education sector is multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA allows a school to protect every account that connects to its network, deploy robust security features that help students patch devices, and block unauthorized account access. More importantly, when a student account is compromised, MFA helps prevent an attacker from logging in and allows the student to quickly change their password and re-secure their account.

Layered Security with MFA

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To best protect student accounts, a layered approach to cybersecurity is necessary to best ensure that student accounts are properly protected. Even if students follow all their cybersecurity training, third-party data breaches can leak account information that may lead to hackers being able to have the information they need to brute force attack their way into a student’s account. For this reason, MFA is an essential layer of security for student accounts because an attacker will not be able to easily authenticate a login, even if they have compromised credentials. An MFA service will send the student a notification when an attacker tries to access their account, letting me change their password quickly to prevent future access attempts.

Multifactor Authentication Features

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Multifactor authentication can do much more for student accounts than authenticating login attempts. For example, many MFA solutions can check the student’s device health before allowing the student to connect to the school’s network. If the student has not patched their device or relevant applications, then they will be prevented from logging in and told what they need to patch before they can access their account. Additionally, MFA solutions can check to make sure device security features are enabled before authenticating a user, and specific geographic areas can be blocked from authenticating. This way, low-effort attack strategies can be stopped without the student needing to reject the login attempt.

Why K-12 and Universities Need MFA

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Malicious actors target all levels of education that provide their students with digital accounts and devices. K-12 schools and universities have a wealth of student data that hackers can sell on the dark web, and a single device can provide an attacker larger access to the school’s network. Because one compromised device can lead to a ransomware attack or data breach, it is critical that schools provide their students with the cybersecurity education and robust layers of protection their accounts deserve. Multifactor authentication provides a strong last line of defense for student accounts that can help prevent their personal data from being stolen by hackers.

Summary

As malicious actors target K-12 education and universities with increasing frequency, schools need to be ready to defend student accounts and their network. By working with a cybersecurity consultant like Robinett Consulting, schools and universities can gain access to cybersecurity experts that can help deploy and maintain an MFA solution. Our IT specialists can work with a school’s IT team to help ensure students onboard to the security solution quickly and that the school’s service is configured correctly to prevent unauthorized account access and common attack strategies that try to circumvent MFA. Our IT experts also provide security assessments and consulting services that can help improve a school’s IT infrastructure, so it can better defend against cybersecurity events!

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) in Education: Protecting Compromised Student Accounts - Robinett Consulting

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