Safe, secure, smart schools begin with endpoint

Safe, secure, smart schools begin with endpoint

With students accessing their school networks via desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet and now even wearables and internet of things (IoT) devices – such as smart speakers, TVs and smartboards – an up-to-date endpoint security system is vital.

 

The internet is helping to fuel an educational revolution the likes of which we’ve never seen. It truly is the ultimate tool, giving schools and students access to lessons from the entirety of human history – all at a fraction of the price of a set of encyclopedias.

 

However, as Alfred Nobel discovered shortly after inventing dynamite, tools swiftly become weapons in the wrong hands.

 

And while most schools have up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus protection, even these safeguards are powerless against an unauthorised user hopping onto a computer that a student simply forgot to log off – or an authorised user who isn’t playing by the rules.

 

However, there’s no need to panic because a comprehensive endpoint security plan can make sure your school is protected against the threats of today and the future.

 

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you

 

At the heart of a secure network is a healthy dose of paranoia: an assumption that all users are hostile.

 

It’s a tough ask to think this way at schools, because teachers and administrators want to believe the best of their students – indeed, it’s a prerequisite for being a good educator. However, endpoint security isn’t personal, it’s merely best practice.

 

Microsoft lives by the assumption that “all input is malicious until proven otherwise”. As a core security principle, it just makes sense.

 

Students are likely a step ahead

 

2015 study from Monash University found that almost 60 per cent of secondary students surveyed thought digital technology rules were outdated. A similar percentage admitted to having bypassed their school filters.

 

Basically, when it comes to computer use, odds are that plenty of teachers are behind their students.

 

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if more than half of your users don’t agree with your rules, can circumvent them and have a powerful computer of their own sitting in their pockets, you’d be a fool not to be thinking about how to stay ahead in security terms.

 

Make staff members aware of consequences

 

According to Consumer Reports, about 3.1 million phones were stolen in the United States in 2013, with a further 1.4 million lost.

 

While no one would suggest a person who’s been the victim of theft deserves further punishment, there should be consequences for people who don’t take basic anti-theft precautions, such as simply setting a four-digit lock code.

 

The School Governance website recommends all staff be regularly reminded “of the risks, and if necessary the penalties” arising from breaches caused by failure to secure devices.

 

Endpoint issues are an ‘alert not alarmed’ situation. Keeping your staff and students abreast of the issues and risks, and having up-to-date security will go a long way to ensuring the internet is the wonderful learning tool it was always intended to be.

 

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