Keeping Student Data Safe from Ransomware Attacks

By keeping student data in secure cloud-based architecture, schools can avoid the dangers of locally-targeted ransomware attacks. 

After the ransomware attacks of Summer 2019, school districts took significant steps to improve their resilience to future threats. However, even after extensive training, school systems remain vulnerable to the briefest lapse of judgment by any staff member. Truth is, it can happen to the best of us. Phishing attempts get more convincing by the day and are ramping back up against school districts as we speak.

These attacks can be especially catastrophic to districts using a Student Information System that resides inside their local network. Attacks can sever access to critical school operations for days or weeks at a time.

Districts who wanted to bolster their defenses against these threats have switched to cloud-based systems, like the OnCourse Student Information System. Here's why.

Becoming Invisible to Cyberattackers

Ransomware attacks targeted at local networks do not affect cloud-based systems. In fact, the OnCourse SIS is virtually invisible to ransomware attackers. 

This is due to the use of Web Application Firewall technology and a strong portfolio of security services, like DDoS protection, malicious traffic detection, 256-bit encryption, and rapid disaster recovery.

How is Student Data Backed Up?

If you are an OnCourse district, you can rest easy that your data is preserved multiple times a day.

  • Data snapshots are taken hourly and persist for one week
  • End-of-day snapshots are taken and persist for two months
  • Data is backed up to physical tape several times a week
  • Tapes are stored in two separate highly-secure locations

OnCourse data is stored in a facility that is graded for use by the federal government and healthcare industries to safeguard their most sensitive information. This level of security is far-and-above what most school districts can provide on their own.

What Happens if Our Network Goes Down?

Even if your network is shut down (or taken down by cyberattackers), OnCourse will continue to be accessible for staff, students, and parents. This is especially useful for districts using the OnCourse SIS and OnCourse Classroom LMS combo for remote learning.  Here are some tips:

  • Staff can access OnCourse from home or other WIFI networks
  • Staff can proactively download OnCourse mobile apps for SIS, Attendance, Lesson Planner, etc. for emergency purposes
  • If your district uses single-sign on (SSO) and SSO is shut down at any point, users can still access OnCourse with their regular login. Staff may have to update/retrieve their password.

For more information about OnCourse cybersecurity, contact me at