Student safety and security is the top priority for schools across the nation. That means not only physical safety, but also the safe use of the internet – digital security. Apparently, there are dangers lurking on the internet that target children. Cyberbullying, predators, phishing, and malware are all threats children face when they are online. Schools need to provide internet access, but they also need to keep students safe.
Coming up with security strategies for schools and students can be not only difficult but costly as well. Without the right strategy, you risk wasting money without delivering the protection your students need. Here, we’ll cover strategies and tips for digital security in schools – internet safety 101 we call it – that you can use to help protect your students.
Safety Compliance Meaning and Methods for Schools
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) sets clear guidelines for libraries and schools. Those requirements include a safety policy that covers:
- Restricted access to inappropriate material online by minors
- Safety when using online communication like email and chat rooms
- Unauthorized sharing of personal and private information regarding minors
- Restricting access to harmful materials online
- Restricting students’ unlawful activities online, such as hacking and criminal activities
For schools and libraries to receive a discounted rate for internet access, they must certify that they have complied with the CIPA requirements. Schools that meet the CIPA requirements through the E-Rate program receive funding that can be used on technology and telecommunication for the schools.
As schools embrace technology to enhance learning and improve student outcomes, managing and protecting students have become a focus. Internet safety is important, but your digital security should also cover areas like printing access, student records, and the network infrastructure.
Digital Security and Internet Safety 101 for Schools
While there is no way to guarantee security for students, there are steps you can take to protect students and schools. At a minimum, you should start with the following:
Create an Internet Safety Policy
You need to create and communicate a policy that lays the groundwork for internet safety. This policy should cover how you prevent access to inappropriate materials for minors. It should also cover safety for students using online communication like email, forums, and chat.
Set standards for when and how students will be protected. Discuss how hacking is addressed. Review the steps that will be taken to protect student information. The material in the policy will be the core strategy for meeting the CIPA requirements. Gaps that you see in your policy should be covered as you implement your strategy.
Implement Digital Security for Students
Look at implementing digital security – a technological solution – to protect students. This solution will support your internet safety policy.
The solution should, at a minimum, filter access to the internet and block unsafe materials from ever being accessed from the school. A strong firewall, for example, is a good start. You’ll need to also look at network management and monitoring. By monitoring internet access and how technology and devices are used, you can begin refining and optimizing digital security. Fill in the gaps that may exist in your technology solution.
Review Your Network and Data Infrastructure
A firewall and an internet safety policy are a good start to your internet safety 101 plan, but you need to also look at how you are protecting student records. Is the network secure? What other points of entry can a criminal use for access to the network?
Printer security, for example, is often inadequate. This can lead to hackers accessing the network and putting student records and information at risk. Closing these gaps in your digital security should be a primary goal in your strategy.
Consider devices a student brings to school. Many students today have smartphones and can access the internet from almost anywhere. If the student is using the school Wi-Fi or is linked to the network, then you are increasing your risk of a cyberattack. Look at creating a policy to cover outside devices. Speak to an expert in how the technology solution can protect devices brought into the school.
A Final Word on Digital Security for Schools
As quickly as technology has grown, and as many changes as schools and administrators must manage, creating a digital security strategy can feel overwhelming. The safety compliance regulations for schools can be baffling.
Fortunately, there are experts who can help. A managed IT service plan will utilize proven best practices to create a manageable and actionable digital security strategy for schools. These services can offer a fixed cost that reduces your expenses while delivering continual benefits to school and student safety.
Talk to the experts at Blue Technologies about your digital security needs – they can offer ongoing maintenance, monitoring, and support for your school and students.