Are your pupils’ devices putting your school network at risk?
School and college networks are expected to do a lot more now than they were a few years ago. Nowadays, students connect all manner of devices to networks when in school or college and expect to receive the same fast internet service that they do on a fixed computer. However, unless you’re taking security precautions to protect your devices, then it’s possible that pupils' devices could unleash an IT security nightmare on your school. In this post, we’ll examine a few of the risks you could be running without even knowing it and some simple steps that you can take to protect your network.
Is there a back door?
Unless you’ve carefully configured your network, then it’s possible that any device connected to it can see files on and communicate with any other computer on the network. This is a data security nightmare and, under the upcoming GDPR regulations, could leave you open to very significant fines. If you do nothing else after reading this article, then we’d highly advise that you take a look at your basic security settings and ensure that you manage network sharing in a safe and secure way.
You have no way of knowing that guest devices on your network have been properly patched and secured, so it’s best to assume that they have not. This means that they really shouldn’t be connected to your main school network at all. Fortunately, there is a solution.
What’s the best solution?
The easiest way to manage the risk of guest devices on your network is to simply not to let them on. Instead, set up a separate guest network that is completely independent of all the main devices in your school or college. This should simply be a ‘dumb pipe’ out to the internet that prevents devices from communicating with each other. This will allow you to give your students and staff the connectivity that they require without putting your overall network infrastructure at risk.
Should you implement a BYOD solution in your school or college, then this is not just as simple as keeping things separate. Depending on your network setup and budget then there are a large number of options. From setting up Access Control Lists on your core network to control who accesses what, utilising NPS (Network Policy Server) in Active Directory to perform security checks before allowing authorised users to connect, or if budgets allow then the purchasing of a dedicated BYOD secure solution that takes care of everything for you.
A safe network is absolutely vital for any school or college and any downtime could play havoc with teaching and learning. By taking the appropriate action now, you will minimise these risks and help to keep your school or college secure.
Pupils' devices - where to find out more
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