The topic of ICT security is always a difficult one to cover, as it not only applies to a vast array of different sub-topics, but everyone has their own views on every individual aspect.
On the highest of levels, it’s all about ensuring that all parts of your ICT environment are safe and secure and when we drop down slightly, there are two separate areas – your physical hardware and your data / the data you make available.
Both needing separate attention, we regularly talk about both to our customers – safety and security in all respects within the education environment needs to be given the most amount of time possible to ensure students have the best and most effective learning environment.
With a lot of the ICT related discussions often about protecting both data and students (in the sense that any unsuitable websites are not accessible on the school’s ICT network, for example), discussions about physical security – such as that relating to reducing the likelihood of equipment being stolen – is not often given the same amount of time.
But should this be the case?
As an experienced provider of ICT in schools, we obviously understand fully how important it is to ensure students can’t access inappropriate websites and that anything stored on networks is completely secure. However, it has to be understood just how much of a negative impact hardware being broken or stolen can have on students, too.
In today’s world, school students need to ideally have a good grasp of ICT before they leave and enter the world of work. Almost every job role has some type of ICT involvement and so the more confident we are using computers when we’re younger, the better position we’ll be in to secure the job we want and impress when we’re in it.
So what happens when you fail to invest in physical ICT security and some of the school’s machines are damaged or stolen?
The initial answer is to ‘double up’ students on machines, so you’ve got two or three students to one computer. The problem is, although this ensures all students can still be involved in ICT lessons, it impacts negatively on the learning experience.
It’s the same as if we look at something away from the computers themselves – a projector, for instance. What if this was stolen?
The teacher wouldn’t be able to use that facility to teach the whole class and would have to go around each individual student. Although this sounds fantastic in one sense, the teacher generally won’t have enough time to dedicate to each student, meaning the learning experience will once again be negatively affected.
Having been supplying ICT in secondary schools for many years now, we’re fully aware that education budgets are strict, but we feel it’s vitally important schools are aware of just how damaging not protecting physical ICT hardware can be – it’s obviously vital to ensure data is safe, viruses are kept at bay and students are protected from harmful websites, but the entire learning experience as a whole really does need to be taken into consideration, too.