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Spring Break: Is Your School’s SOC Ready For It?

This is a guest post from our partner, UncommonX

As schools across the country take spring break, the cybersecurity threats facing our educational institutions do not take a holiday.

Cyber attackers often capitalize on these quieter periods when IT staff may be reduced, and vigilance may wane, making it a prime time for launching attacks. Recognizing this, setting up a "Spring Break SOC" (Security Operations Center) becomes an essential strategy for K-12 schools to ensure uninterrupted cybersecurity protection.

This post will delve into how a 24/7 managed SOC, bolstered by Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services, can serve as a vigilant guardian of a school's digital environment during holidays, like spring break.

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The Vital Importance of a 24/7 Managed SOC

A 24/7 managed SOC operates as a dedicated command center that monitors, assesses and responds to cybersecurity threats in real-time, ensuring the safety of sensitive school data and digital assets even when the regular school operations are on pause. It is a key strategy for advancing cyber resilience.

Key roles of a 24/7 managed SOC

As the heart of a school’s cybersecurity defense, providing real-time surveillance and immediate reaction capabilities to potential threats and vulnerabilities within the network infrastructure, the primary functions of a 24/7 SOC include:

Continuous monitoring: Keeping an unceasing watch over an organization's digital assets, including networks, devices, and information systems, to identify any unusual or suspicious activity that could indicate a security threat.

Threat detection: Using advanced tools and technologies, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and threat intelligence feeds, to detect potential cybersecurity threats.

Incident analysis and response: Investigating detected threats to determine their nature and severity, and taking appropriate actions to mitigate or neutralize the threats before they can cause significant harm.

Reporting and communication: Providing timely and detailed reports on security incidents and threats, as well as maintaining clear lines of communication with relevant stakeholders for effective incident response and management.

Given the limited availability of IT staff during school holidays, a 24/7 managed SOC acts as an extension of the school's IT department, providing peace of mind to administrators and staff alike that the school's network and data are being actively protected against cyber threats.

Establishing a "Spring Break Security Operations Center" (SOC)

Establishing a 24/7 managed SOC during spring break—or enhancing an existing one for the holiday period—requires meticulous planning and strategic implementation to ensure your educational institution's network and data remain secure against potential cyber threats.

Essential Steps to Establish or Strengthen a SOC During Spring Break

Assess Current Cybersecurity Posture: Conduct a thorough assessment of your current cybersecurity measures to identify any vulnerabilities or gaps in your defense. Assess the capabilities of your existing SOC, if you have one, to handle the increased risk during holidays.

Establish 24/7 Threat Monitoring: Ensure you have enough trained security analysts to monitor the SOC around the clock, considering the possibility of reduced staff availability during the break. Include team members or external partners who specialize in rapid managed detection and response (MDR).

Heighten community awareness: Make students, faculty and staff aware of the importance of cybersecurity hygiene, especially during breaks. Conduct training sessions for all staff on the specific threats and establish a clear communication channel and protocols in the event that an incident occurs during the break.

By addressing these key areas, schools and educational institutions can establish a SOC that is well-prepared to protect against cyber threats during the spring break, ensuring that students and staff return to a safe and secure digital environment.

When is the Right Time to Bring in an External Ally?

Implementing a 24/7 managed SOC requires meticulous planning, the latest in cybersecurity technology and experienced security analysts familiar with the challenges facing today’s K-12 digital learning environments.

For example, when a school district customer experienced a ransomware attack, the immediate visibility delivered by UncommonX and its 24/7 SOC found where the attack started and sped up the start of remediation.   

Advantages of UncommonX's 24/7 Managed SOC

  • Complete network visibility: UncommonX's technology maps the entire network, infrastructure, and devices, ensuring no part of the school's digital environment goes unmonitored.
  • Rapid deployment: UncommonX's solutions are designed for quick and easy implementation, meaning schools can have their next 24/7 SOC up and running well before the next holiday break begins.
  • Expertise on demand: UncommonX's 24/7 managed SOC team acts as an expert extension of a school's IT department, ready to contain and remediate any cyber risks that arise, ensuring the network remains secure and optimized.

Is Your School Ensuring Comprehensive Visibility?

The advent of spring break should not leave K-12 schools vulnerable to cyber threats. Setting up a “Spring Break SOC,” enhanced with MDR services, is a proactive measure that schools can take to gain complete visibility and optimum cybersecurity. 

This approach ensures that, even in the absence of regular IT staff, schools have continuous, expert-led cybersecurity protection. By working with ACP CreativIT to implement an UncommonX solution, schools can enjoy their holidays with the assurance that their digital learning environments are safe and secure.