The UK NCSC is offering schools a free DNS security solution.

The Protective Domains Name Service (PDNS) is now being gradually rolled out to schools around the United Kingdom by the UK National Online Safety Centre (NCSC). The free PDNS for Schools program attempts to shield educational institutions against security risks related to the Domain Name System (DNS). The first rollout will continue into the next year, and the full rollout is scheduled to be disclosed in the first quarter of 2024.

First introduced in 2017, the PDNS guards against malware and other online risks as well as improper use of the Domain Name System (DNS). For a number of years, organizations including the federal government, local governments, and devolved administrations have had unrestricted access to it.

Cyberattacks are a major concern for schools and the education industry in general. Large volumes of individually identifiable student data are in the authority of educational institutions, and defenses are hampered by the fact that many education organizations have little funding set out for cybersecurity. Cisco Talos incident response data for the third quarter of 2023 shows that the most attacked vertical by attacks on web applications was tied between education and telecommunications.

It was discovered in January that over a dozen UK schools had been the target of a cyberattack, which resulted in the hackers’ online release of extremely private material. SEN data, kid passport scans, employee pay scales, and contract information were purportedly taken by the infamous cybercrime organization Vice Society. Vice Society is well-known for using attacks involving ransomware in the UK and other nations to target the education sector disproportionately.

Technology is essential to education; according to the NCSC, schools are depending more and more on digital resources to provide high-quality instruction, from interactive instructional tools to online learning platforms. “But, DNS is a crucial component that is sometimes overlooked behind the scenes. DNS enables consumers to easily access websites and online services. Regretfully, DNS may additionally be utilized maliciously to distribute and control malware.”

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