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Technology has changed the way education is delivered forever, however not all changes have been for the good. Student safety is now threatened in a number of digital ways, none of which would have been thought of just a decade ago.

1 - Cyberbullying

87% of teens have witnessed cyberbullying. Children bullied during their early years are up to three times more likely to self harm than their classmates. 

Sources: NHS & Enough.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyber bullying is a relatively new twist on an age-old problem. Definitions vary, but cyber bullying is generally described as intentionally and repeatedly harming another person on electronic media.

Where does cyberbullying occur?

Anywhere people can communicate digitally is a potential platform for cyberbullying. These platforms include: email, text messages, IMs, private messages, website content, and social networking sites.

How do I protect my students?

Site Blocking Software

Site blocking software can be used to forcibly block access to specified sites. This software can also report persistent offenders to the network manager for escalation.

Education

Administrators, teachers, parents and students should all be educated on the risks, new trends, warning signs, and how to reach out to victimized students. 

Monitoring & Reporting Software

Devices can be installed with software which identifies, records and notifies administrators on the use of keywords & phrases. These cases can then be investigated further and escalated where necessary. 

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2 - Damaging School Networks

The biggest threat to school networks originates from students and staff. One in five schools and colleges have fallen victim to cyber crime causing a wide range of issues including: financial recovery costs, data losses and reputational damage.

Source: Ecclesiastical

What type of attack should I expect?

Malicious physical and cyberattacks - Technically proficient students can use their access to school grounds and computer systems, to leave programs on the network, steal information or physically damage assets.

Downloading malicious content - Social engineered phishing campaigns can be used to tempt students into downloading content which can damage your system. These can easily be hidden within emails, games or even video clips.

how do I protect my students & Network

Internal Network Security

To stop external threats being caused by malicious users consider the following:disable or remove USB drives, block access to web-based email and data-storage services, such as Gmail, lock down networks to prevent wireless access using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, reduce user rights and access levels to the minimum necessary including but not limited to removing software installation rights

External Network Security

Firewalls, spam filters & antivirus software are your first line of digital defence against external threats.There are many options for each of these but not all are suitable for educational environments. New technology like SonicWall’s cloud based firewall can offer additional protection as they are regularly updated when new threats appear.

Physical Seperation

Evaris recommend keeping expensive or sensitive hardware behind locked doors or off site where possible.

View Sonicwalls cyber threat report

3 - Inappropriate Content 

70% of children 7 to 18 years old have accidentally encountered online pornography. Recent safeguarding laws have made schools and teachers legally responsible for protecting students from inappropriate online content.

Sources: Guardchild

What content is inappropriate for my students?

Selecting which sites to block, in an educational environment, is difficult. Students need access to different sites depending upon their current course material. A site with content related to capital punishment may be inappropriate for primary aged students but that same content may be required by older students.

Why are students attempting to access sites which you would consider inappropriate?

There are justifiable reasons students attempt to access sites which are considered inappropriate by their school. These reasons include:
Lack of digital tools to complete required tasks
Wrongly blocked sites for that specific user

Students will also attempt to access inappropriate sites for unjustifiable reasons and your system needs to be smart and powerful enough to deal with these attempts.

How do I protect my students?

Site Blocking Software

Site blocking software can be used to forcibly block access to specified sites. This software can also report persistent offenders to the network manager for escalation.

Parental education

Parental education can also help students to have a fully rounded online lifestyle.

Student Education

Training and educating students on what is appropriate on a school network is imperative if you want to have complient users.

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4 - Systems Failure

Cashless schools & digital registers are now the norm in UK schools. Do you know what to do if one of these systems fail?

How regularly do systems fail?

Systems failure is an unavoidable part of digital life on average systems are only working (X% of the time). It is important that your school has a plan for when they inevitably happen. 

What digital systems need a hard copy fallback?

Not all digital systems are as essential as others. For example a student being locked in a room during a power cut could be catastrophic - especially in case of fire. Whereas losing access to a digital register half way through a lesson might be less of an issue. Understanding which systems are critical and ensuring that there are backup and recovery plans in place for these is incredibly important.

How do I protect my students?

Disaster recovery

It is important to regularly review your systems and insure that there is a robust disaster recovery plan in place. Simply having a disaster recovery plan is not enough especially for a school. You must regularly test your plan and train members of staff on how to carry them out.

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5 - Unsecured Personal Data

Schools networks hold huge amounts of sensitive information about their students.  With the introduction of GDPR schools could be subject to up to £17 million (or 4 per cent of global turnover) fines if found in breach.

What is personal data?

Personal data is information relating to persons who: can be identified, directly or indirectly from the information in question. This information does not have to be sensitive. That said if you have the ability to add another layer of protection to you information always prioritize sensitive data such as personal records.

What data should we hold about our students and for how long?

There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Generally if you don’t need information on a student, you should not request, access or store it for any longer than you need to.

How do I protect my students?

User Access Levels

Ensure nobody has access to the user data they do not need

Network Security

Ensure your network is as safe as reasonably possible from external threats. This can be done using firewalls, spam filters or antivirus software.

backup strategy

Put in place and regularly test your backup strategy.  Evaris recommend having three different back-ups. Find out more

If you want to talk more about how technology has changed education and how to keep students safe get in touch below.

Robert.G

To talk more about how you can keep your students safe in a constantly evolving digital world contact us today.

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