Schools manage an inordinate amount of information every day. From capturing academic records to accessing standardized syllabuses, the networks that carry this information need elevated security while remaining available to valid users. Additionally, faculty members are always under pressure to keep up with modern threats while still providing quality education to the entire student body. New enrollments require resource allocation, and while access to information is part of any decent education, ensuring students don’t misuse the institution’s resources remains critical.
Liabilities exist within any entity that handles and processes personal information. With the sheer amount of individuals involved in any school or academic institution, there’s a tendency to leave the networks open and accessible to everyone. This is misguided as there are many options available to faculty and administrators to secure the network while remaining open to authorized users.
School Network Security Best Practices
Any IT operational engineer will tell you that managing users and controlling access to information is a full-time (and often underappreciated) job. When it comes to cybersecurity in schools, this problem multiplies exponentially. To secure the community network, administrators need to keep track of who has authorized access, control access to confidential information, and ensure students can access the data needed to complete assignments.
Added to this is the need to ensure safe browsing on the internet using web filtering, to prevent students from accessing inappropriate sites or perform large downloads. In this scenario, a proactive and dedicated approach remains essential to avoid exploitation or misuse of the infrastructure.
Specific Constraints with IT Infrastructure in Schools
Adopting new IT technology in schools remains a slow moving process. Infrastructure generally lags behind the “real-world” due to budget constraints, access to the latest expertise, as well as a “whatever works” way of dealing with issues. This is a natural response when overheads and limited budgets are available, while faculty still needs to provide a quality academic experience.
Outdated workstations, access points, and servers mean IT professionals need to make the most of what’s available. This could lead to network security flaws that open the institution up to exploitation and it could even cause an infrastructure collapse, if not addressed in the long-term.
Additional challenges include:
- Lack of expertise in new technology and its implementation requirements.
- Larger amounts of data and an increase in the number of enrolled students.
- Static or reduced budgets that require overheads to be trimmed.
- Rapid changes to processes and policies, requiring remodeling of workflows and information routing paths.
This doesn’t factor in the rising risk of active penetration attempts into the system from nefarious individuals seeking access to personal information. Clearly, multiple points of failure exist within academic institutions that require proactive and innovative solutions to overcome these challenges.
Moving to a Managed IT Services Solution Partner
While patches exist and talented IT professionals can get around the inherent challenges facing a school or institution, moving to a managed IT services provider may be the better option. Specifically, if you task your school’s IT personnel with oversight, process definition, and system monitoring instead of putting out daily fires, the entire organization will benefit.
Firstly, a predetermined budget means everyone knows what the total expenditure will be. Secondly, you can set limits on students’ use of the infrastructure using access control and consumption rules, meaning there’s less likelihood of abuse.
The biggest benefit is access to the latest technology solutions, equipment, and security expertise. With a managed IT service provider, you’ll reduce your infrastructure cost, ensure network security, and streamline the entire system’s processes to gain greater efficiencies.
Services that managed IT companies provide include:
- Advanced network security such as a VPN for school Wi-Fi networks.
- Web filtering for school networks that guarantee safe browsing on the internet.
- Consumption monitoring and user-based limits that prevent abuse.
- Hosted storage including document management applications with controlled workflows that ensure process efficiencies.
- Cybersecurity with modern threat protection solutions.
- Access to new hardware and devices regularly.
- Constant support and advice for IT service staff and faculty.
- Controlled access via authentication to both the system and devices deployed.
By securing every connected device on campus, encrypting the transmission of information, and monitoring the flow of data throughout the network, your IT staff can detect breaches early and take corrective action as quickly as possible.
Kelley Imaging – Your School Network Security Experts in Portland, Oregon
Kelley Imaging can improve your school’s workflows and provide the underlying hardware required to deliver the best service to your students while keeping everything secured. With data backed up, network security locked down, and consumption limited according to the institution’s policies, your faculty can focus on the important tasks, such as educating the youth of tomorrow.
Since 1974, Kelley Imaging has served the Pacific Northwest with expert consultants and access to the latest technological innovations. If your educational institution in Portland needs a technological revamp, get in touch with Kelley Imaging’s experts today.