Securing internet access at school and home

June 18th 2021

Moving devices between school and home networks comes with added responsibility and security risks. Here’s how we can secure them both.

 Keeping your school – and home – networks safe

Simple IT solutions that meet the needs of your school

As remote and online learning has become everyday, the digital divide for school students has become a hot topic. The government has invested $36.4 million to help students access devices and increase access to the internet. And while that has made a sizeable dent, it has also opened-up schools to more security risk. Along with the devices, schools must consider training for teachers and households to ensure the systems in your network – and at home – are adequately protected. 

Security challenges schools are facing

Bring your own devices

Many of the devices that connect to your school’s network may be BYOD, which means they’re also connected to at-home internet, where there may be far lower security in place. That means students or staff may be using a compromised device and not know it, which makes it harder to manage security.

Accessing the school network remotely

Your staff or students working and learning from home may need to access school systems or documents stored on the school network. Therefore, they’ll need secure remote access. 

Devices not maintained

Any device that connects to your IT network needs to be actively maintained including data back-ups. An unmaintained device is more prone to cybersecurity attacks – and without a back-up, the school may not be able to recover the data.

Multiple accounts, same password

Using the same password across multiple sites and accounts (or easy-to-guess passwords) is a major security risk. 

Students who are still learning 

Good security comes with practice. Students – especially younger ones – may not be able to easily spot internet security threats, which means they’re more likely to download an infected file, expose their device to a virus or use an unsecured network. 

Implementing security controls at school – and at home 

To protect your staff and students, devices and systems, at home or in the classroom, identify where there are any gaps, and then prioritise your resources. 

  • First, approach your IT provider 

The best first step is to contact your IT support team at Isometric to increase in data/ internet bandwidth and secure your school and home networks. 

  • Choose a safe and secure internet service provider 

Your school can either use the government-funded Network for Learning service or choose and pay for a different retail service provider. It’s your responsibility to make sure your school’s network is protected against risks such as hacking, spam and access to inappropriate content. 

  • Take stock of your current environment 

To secure your school network, you need to know what hardware and software is used – and who owns it. Find out what steps have been taken to secure and regularly update the devices. Is the software you use managed by the school or an external third-party? How, when and who can access and update it? Your IT provider can help with this. 

  • Securing access for students and staff 

Now that you know what you’re working with, you can take steps to secure it. Start with access: are user passwords strong and have you enabled two-factor authentication? 

  • Securing access to the school network 

You need to make sure the right devices can access the right parts of your system – and that only approved software is run while on the network.

You also need to consider who is in charge of security processes and due diligence to maintain your devices, software and network. Tasks will include changing passwords regularly, blocking sites that aren’t age appropriate, and keeping your ICT network maintained to current Ministry standard. Then there’s teaching and practicing safe security with staff and students – what rules need to be followed and what are the consequences for misuse of a device? 

  • Securing access between home and school 

With the pandemic an ongoing dilemma, shifting devices between school and home networks is essential. Without the proper security, your school network is at risk – and could compromise the home networks of your staff and students too. 

Protect your school by disabling any automatic connections to home networks. Then connect ‘work’ devices to your school network with a VPN. Protect your home network by ensuring your network is protected by a frequently-changed password. Ensure all apps, routers and software are updated and you have the appropriate security settings enabled. 

  • Careful network design and configuration 

Securing your school’s data is critical so it’s important to design and configure a network that gives you visibility of what’s going on. 

That could look like: 

  • BYOD on a separate network to school-owned devices and servers. 
  • Security alerts sent to the school principal and the IT support provider. 
  • Data backed up daily to an off-the-network location. 
  • Outgoing traffic from the network filtered, analysed, and protected from attacks. 
  • Unusual activity logged across the network and reviewed. 

Secure school and home networks 

With more and more students just as comfortable with a tablet as they are with a pen, the integration of technology in the classroom is nothing new. But the events of this past year have resulted in a rapid increase in how much schools, staff and students rely on new technologies. And with this comes added responsibility. With devices – and therefore data – moving back and forth between home and school, there are even more potential security risks you could be exposed to. 

Looking for more information on protecting your home and school networks? 

Get in touch with the Isometric team. 

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