Safeguarding School System Networks 

The Crucial Role WiFi 6 Can Play in Defending Schools from Cyberattack 

—Michael Fowler 

The digital age is having a profound effect on the educational experiences of children around the world. In America, K-12 schools increasingly use technology in the classroom to enhance teaching and lesson delivery. And the rise of remote learning has led schools increasingly to rely on IT network infrastructures to support their operations.  

Unfortunately, this heightened reliance on technology has also made K-12 schools more susceptible to cyberattacks. To protect schools and other vulnerable targets from these threats, advanced security measures such as WiFi 6 are essential. WiFi 6’s security protocols can efficiently fortify school networks against potential cyberattacks. 

The Growing Cyber-Threat Landscape 

Cyberattacks targeting educational institutions have become prevalent in recent years. Hackers, motivated by various factors, exploit weaknesses in school networks to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive data, disrupt operations, or even engage in ransomware attacks. The ramifications of such breaches can be profound, affecting students, teachers, and the entire educational system. 

Understanding WiFi 6’s Security Features 

WiFi 6 is the latest generation of wireless technology, boasting significant advancements over its predecessors. One of the most critical improvements is in its security protocols, which eliminate the vulnerabilities that existed in earlier standards. The security features that make WiFi 6 such a powerful defensive solution include the following: 

  • WPA3 Encryption: WiFi 6 incorporates the latest WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) encryption, making it significantly more difficult for attackers to crack passwords and gain unauthorized access. 
  • Enhanced Authentication: WiFi 6 provides improved authentication methods, reducing the risk of brute-force and dictionary attacks on login credentials. This improvement adds an extra layer of security to protect against unauthorized users attempting to infiltrate a targeted network. 
  • Target Wake Time (TWT): TWT is a power-saving feature of WiFi 6 that schedules specific times for devices to transmit and receive data. This helps conserve battery life, but it also minimizes the exposure of devices to potential threats when they are not in use. 
  • Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA): OFDMA improves data-transmission efficiency by dividing channels into smaller sub-channels. This feature also enhances security by reducing interference and making it harder for attackers to intercept data. 

Defending Vulnerable Targets 

Often operating on limited budgets, schools can be low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals. Their relatively open environments and numerous connected devices create attractive targets, especially because of the wealth of sensitive data—including student records and financial information—they contain. WiFi 6 can significantly improve the cybersecurity posture of these networks and serve as a powerful deterrent against potential attacks by using such features as: 

  • Real-time Threat Detection: WiFi 6 security protocols enable real-time threat detection and prevention measures, identifying suspicious activities and blocking potential threats before they can wreak havoc on vulnerable networks. 
  • Scalability and Device Management: As schools embrace technology in various forms, the number of connected devices will increase. WiFi 6 easily handles dense device deployments while maintaining the security of all attached devices. 
  • Secure Remote Learning: The recent pandemic highlighted the importance of remote learning. WiFi 6 provides a secure platform for distance education, ensuring that sensitive student data remains protected during virtual interactions. 

As schools embrace information technology and integrate it into their educational environments, robust cybersecurity measures become ever more critical. WiFi 6’s advanced security protocols provide formidable defenses against cyber threats. By investing in WiFi 6, educational institutions can safeguard their networks, protect sensitive data, and ensure a safe learning environment for their students and staff.