Cyber risks threaten 44% of private schools

Independent schools may be at greater risk online than it has previously been thought, as many do not believe they are adequately prepared to deal with risks relating to cyber security.

This information emerges from 'Attitudes to Risk in Independent Schools', the latest report from Insurance broker Lucas Fettes & Partners in association with Baker Tilly. The research discovered that 44% of schools questioned do not believe that they would have an adequate response to such an issue.

The report goes on to reveal that cyber crime is a leading concern for these schools, in particular, cyber bullying. Findings show that while nearly half of respondents do not feel equipped to deal with these issues and it is a leading concern for 20% schools, 31% do not have a current strategy in place to cover such risks.

Commissioned by Lucas Fettes & Partners, the research report uncovers how independent schools currently develop and implement risk management strategies, with cyber security being an area of focus.

Schools could potentially minimise their cyber risk by involving parents and teachers who are able to directly educate, monitor and influence a child's online behaviour. However, findings from the report reveal that 67% of schools do not consult with teachers when developing a risk management strategy, with a worrying 87% excluding parents entirely.

Robin Lucas, Chairman of Lucas Fettes & Partners comments: "It is vital that schools stay abreast of any type of risk, but in particular cyber risk due to the growth of cyber crime and influence of the internet on a pupil's daily life. Lucas Fettes is committed to not only developing solutions that respond to the challenges, threats and opportunities that our clients tell us drive them, but also keeping two steps ahead – pre-empting the areas in which schools are likely to be exposed to in the future and making recommendations that will support business growth."

Heather Wheelhouse, Head of Independent Schools at Baker Tilly said: "This report reveals that the issues that keep heads and bursars awake at night are not always reflected in their formal risk management strategies. In particular, non-regulated and emerging risks such as business continuity and cybercrime are often overlooked. Failure to manage risk could lead to financial instability and/or damage to a school's reputation, both of which will prove much more difficult to manage than addressing the underlying risks."

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