Combining a user base of students and faculty spread over a large campus with wired and wireless connectivity is no small feat. Yet, in today’s climate it is imperative to provide access to a broad variety of online learning tools and resources while maintaining adequate controls for a safe online experience for all. Arguably, no other environment tests its IT infrastructure more in terms of both performance and security.
In order to aid schools, colleges and universities to achieve their mission, the UK government releases a set of guidelines called Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), with periodic updates. If you're an educator or work with schools in the UK, you'll be very familiar with KCSIE.
KCSIE addresses the safeguards needed to protect children and students from maltreatment, prevent impairment of children’s health or development and ensure that children can access the Internet free of inappropriate content and risk of exposure.
KCSIE particularly highlights three areas in regards to online safety:
Content -being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material;
Contact -being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users;
Conduct -personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm;
There are several ways that the government suggests schools and universities must protect children online, including:
Here are just a few of the services we provide to education organisations to make their IT budgets and strategy work effectively to safeguard students:
This can alert you to any critical security gaps in your network and inform future allocation of funds to any necessary technology. There are several options for conducting the assessment itself, but all typically include reviewing the threats against your assets, identifying vulnerabilities, and identifying the worst-case scenarios.
This also highlights your strengths and areas where your efforts are already succeeding.
Blocking access to inappropriate material and websites, content filtering tools can create activity logs that determine which user was acting inappropriately. However, dated solutions are an easy way to fall out of compliance. It’s important to remember that all filtering products are not the same.
At SysGroup, we use WatchGuard, Mimecast and Kaspersky security. These solutions block harmful and/or illegal content in multiple categories, including Extremism & Radicalisation, for KCSIE compliance.
Schools require both wired and wireless networks to have the same strong protection in place. WatchGuard has built its reputation on bringing this same emphasis on robust security to Wi-Fi too. WatchGuard Cloud-Managed Access Points have been architected from the ground- up to focus on ease of deployment and administration, simplifying even the most complex aspects of Wi-Fi management and making fast, secure, and intelligent Wi-Fi accessible to schools, colleges and universities; large and small.
BYOD, with all its myriad of benefits, can also introduce resource challenges for your already understaffed IT department. KCSIE requires an Acceptable Use policy that includes BYOD brought onto school premises. Establishing a stringent acceptable usage policy will help students and staff alike remember that Internet access is a resource privilege.
A managed service provider (MSP) can work as an extension of your institution to fill IT security gaps through managed service offerings, whether that be initial deployment and configuration, ongoing maintenance, monitoring or reporting.
These types of managed services are critical for schools and colleges that do not have the required in-house resources or expertise to ensure continuous protection and adherence to increasingly stringent government regulations.