Awareness and training programmes help schools prepare for cyber attacks.

Despite an increase in the number of ransomware attacks, a new cyber security survey reveals that schools across the UK are better prepared for cyber attacks.

Research by London Grid for Learning in collaboration with the NCSC – shows that over half the schools in the research (53%) felt prepared for a cyber attack.

Other key findings from the audit include:

  • 100% of schools now use firewall protection
  • 74% of schools enable 2-step verification (2SV) for their most important accounts
  • 99% of schools use an antivirus solution
  • 56% of school leaders and governors felt more informed about the cyber security issues within their schools

These are all encouraging signs that schools are taking cyber resilience seriously, thanks in part to the NCSC’s cyber security for schools website, which is full of practical resources to help schools improve their cyber security. Nearly half of schools (46%) questioned in the survey were aware of the NCSC’s free cyber security training for school staff.

With more than 800 schools across the UK responding, the research has provided the NCSC with the opportunity to further understand the impact and progress that has been made since the previous audit in 2019. The pandemic and widespread adoption of home schooling meant schools have become even more reliant on IT-related services for both administrative and learning functions.

78% of schools said they had experienced at least one of the types of cyber security incident mentioned in the audit which means the threat is still out there. In particular, ransomware attacks continue to increase across the sector. Schools are now looking at their contingency planning for a cyber breach or attack, with 49% stating they have appropriate documents in place. The NCSC’s Exercise in a Box tool can help schools to check how they well-prepared they are for the most common cyber attacks, whilst following the steps outlined in our Response and recovery guide can help schools get back on their feet should the worse happen.

As the NCSC continue to work with partners within government and across the education sector, the LGfL research will help guide the NCSC – working alongside the education sector – to design accessible, practical guidance for schools wanting to build their cyber security resilience.