BYOD in Schools – Taking Care of Security

Following Chris Gabriel’s examination of BYOD in Education, this follow up addresses some of the security issues faced by BYOD in schools.

Earlier this year we discussed how an increasing number of schools are seeking to enliven the education experience by allowing pupils to use smart devices, or providing them with tablet devices, in the classroom.

BYOD in Schools - dealing with security issues. BYOD in Schools - dealing with security issues.

The benefits of using this kind of technology in the classroom are becoming clear, but what about the risks?

One of the obvious concerns is the issue of security, so let’s look at five of the main security issues that a BYOD in schools deployment can present, as identified by our team in Arizona.

Controlling the Network

In the US, and other territories, schools providing wireless access to children need to ensure compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CPA).

The solution to this challenge is to ensure that a WLAN compiles and maintains a list of authorised users of the school’s network by detecting, authenticating, classifying and authorising every connection to the network in a fully-automated and dynamic way.

This will maintain the required levels of security at the same time as being low cost operationally.

Controlling the Airspace

Using apps such as MyWi, soft-AP and WiFi tethering, the tech savvy student can bypass a managed network and gain unfiltered access to the Internet.

To put the brakes on young hackers, MyWi enabled devices operating on school property are automatically identified as unauthorised access points.  The physical location of the device can be pinpointed by an advanced WLAN, IT staff notified and the device automatically blocked from connecting to the WLAN .

Viruses and Malware

Given the number of games and social sites that students access off site, this is an obvious concern.

Firewalls are programmed to quickly scan devices during the authentication process so the VLAN routes student connectivity through a hardened tunnel – a route where all non-essential software programs and utilities have been removed, which all but eliminates “back-door” access. In addition students should be educated about the need to regularly update their virus programs.

Cloud Technology

When a student has access to internal functions such as printing, storage and e-mail, there is the danger of exposing these resources to external hazards.

It is possible to mitigate these risks by deploying Cloud desktop solutions such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).  This creates a “digital locker” where the student can store, recall, share, collaborate and print materials from their personal profiles.  The students then have the benefit of a “desktop anywhere.”

Student Behaviour and Etiquette

How does a school deal with cyber bullying conducted over student devices?

The school needs to develop a student-use policy, educate students on the definition of cyber bullying and provide various methods of reporting, including an online reporting tool through email or an other application.

It is clear then, that most of the security concerns can be addressed by technology, but that does not obviate the need to develop a policy and communicate that policy to all stakeholders.

Overall, it is becoming abundantly clear that, with the right BOYD partner, technology, good policy and communication working together, it is possible to better educate our children, without exposing them or the school to new risks.

We'll be taking a look at the Hybrid Cloud and issues to address surrounding Managed Services provision, to stay up to date, you can subscribe to CXO Unplugged updates at the top right of this page.

Tags Security, BYOD, Strategy, Education