Securing your school

I got a chance to attend a session just for the pure sake of learning and not conference related in the last time slot of the CSTA Conference.  It was led by the iboss folks.  They had hosted our Monday night bus trip outing for the conference.  There, we got to enjoy their wonderfully located facility and they treated us pretty nicely while we were there.  Yes, they’re a business and I suppose that we could be considered potential clients.  We did get an overview of just what they do and why it should be of importance to educators but it wasn’t a hard sell by any means.

But they did get me thinking at the time and so I was hoping that I would get a chance to sit through an entire presentation.  I’m glad that I did.  I should have captured the names of the presenters but I figured that they’d be in the program.  But, they weren’t so I can just indicate that there were two people from iboss and a teaching consultant from the San Diego Unified School District.  My apologies; that’s not like me.  I guess I was suffering from conference fatigue.

Their products and services exist to secure data and computers within an organization and certainly schools fall into that category.  When you think about it, though, school districts may even be a bigger target.  This image was from the details about SDUSD where the claim was that they had more technology items than students. 

That statistic, by itself, is pretty impressive, but what’s more telling was this graphic showing the breakdown of that technology.

Now, securing computers within a school district can be a challenge at times   You have students and teachers who want to bypass filters, get email and click on links, clients who want to install their own software, …

It would have been too much to expect to ask for details about how their protection works but I was hoping for a clue.  Even with a school district with, say, all Windows computers, you’d need to have a procedure to ensure that they’re all secure.  But, look at the graphic again.  There are four different pieces of technology that they’ve identified.

That’s just the beginning; when you open your district to Bring Your Own Device philosophy, you’re letting computers that aren’t under your direct control onto the network.  It’s not realistic that you’d install a piece a software on every computer so you know that the solution is far more sophisticated than just a single piece of software.

And, a known solution is only as good as the last time that it’s been updated.  We’ve all, I’m sure, read about the dangers of viruses, denial of service attacks, and the new breed that encrypts your computer and will sell you the key to unlock things.  Your school may have different networks for students, guests, administration, teachers, etc.  How can you do it all?

I sure have no solution and it’s pretty easy to say “don’t do stupid things or click on links you don’t know about”.  Especially with students, they’re just learning and the online world offers so much good.  It may just be inconceivable to them that anything could go wrong.

I left the session somewhat unsatisfied in my quest to know how.  It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect to learn trade secrets – there’s enough on their website to whet your appetite.  It was, however, a good reminder to think about just how enormous the situation is.  For that, I walked away with gratitude.

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