Improving Cybersecurity in K-12

Written by Kajeet on May 21, 2018

Sentinel_Cybersecurity_Blog

In three years, there have been 333 cyber incidents in K-12, according to the “K-12 Cyber Incident Map,” maintained by EdTech Strategies. Security remains a top concern amongst educators who are trying to protect their students and keep them safe from hackers, viruses, and data breaches.

The K-12 world is no longer immune to cyber and ransomware attacks. A 2017 CoSN report of 445 school districts revealed 11 percent of the districts report daily unauthorized access attempts, and another 26 percent face attacks weekly.

If the right policies are not in place when schools provide students the means to access online content, students, the schools, and their data could all be at risk. Teaching digital citizenship is a great proactive step for the end-user (i.e. students). However, school districts need to do more to mitigate security risks, allowing students to focus on improving their digital skills such as content analysis and curation.

The Kajeet connectivity solutions are rooted in safely connecting students to the mobile and digital world, powered and managed by Sentinel®, our patented cloud platform. Sentinel safeguards the online world for students, by including filtering, device management, network security, and reporting tools all in one place.

Here is how you can bolster cybersecurity within your school or district.

No Fluff with these Online Filters

Corporations have IT staff to support robust network monitoring and new hire training, while schools often scrape by with just enough resources to keep the lights (and the network) on.

Students, the largest contingent of network users in K-12, don’t receive security training as an employee at a company would. And if the IT technology staff at a school is small, they may not have time to train fellow educators, let alone the students. Only 15 percent of K-12 tech leaders have reported implementing a cybersecurity plan.

However, if you are interested in helping your school staff improve their security skills, CoSN provides a course titled, “Cybersecurity in K-12 Education.”

So how can schools ensure they are protecting their students and staff against attack? Beyond incorporating security into digital literacy programs, how can schools reduce threats students face on the network today?

Created with the student in mind, the Kajeet Sentinel platform filters Internet access wherever students connect. If students are connected to Wi-Fi via the Kajeet SmartSpot® (Wi-Fi hotspot) or the Kajeet SmartBus™ (school bus Wi-Fi), educators can relax knowing there are extra filters to protect students. These filters are CIPA-compliant, meeting the FCC regulation designed to protect students from accessing obscene or harmful content.

Educators can whitelist or blacklist specific URLs, based on what is deemed appropriate within their school district. Or they can set a pre-determined filter group based on grade (K-8 and 9-12). 

Student Device Management Made Easy

A staggering 73 percent of districts do not have a “dedicated network security person,” let alone a large enough IT staff to manage the overwhelming amount of student devices.

As Education Week writes, “And while the K-12 sector has spent heavily on digital devices, software, and bandwidth, investments in cybersecurity have not kept pace. That’s left many district IT departments understaffed and under-resourced.”

Education IT teams need to do more, with less (as in staff and resources).

The Kajeet mobile device management (MDM) solution provides a dashboard  with complete oversight across all student devices, across multiple operating systems. Administrators can set security policies for specific devices, including which sites they can visit and which apps can be downloaded. Check it out for yourself and schedule a ‘virtual’ tour.

When managing the Kajeet filtered Wi-Fi devices through the Sentinel platform, you can: 

  • Set time-of-day access, such as shutting down device access late at night so students aren’t up all night on devices.
  • Designate daily or monthly data consumption limits at the device or device group level.
  • Provide specific members of your team with administrative controls.
  • Mark a device as lost or stolen in real-time.
  • Track a device without using a student’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Just last year, one Montana school district shut down for three days after a data breach of student and faculty records, with a ransomware demand from the hackers.

Many students access the school network beyond the classroom walls, and those devices need to be secured in order to avoid cybersecurity and threats, such as the Montana attack.

Security in the Cyber World

Kajeet provides technology to keep all students safe and secure online, for example:

  • On the actual student device, the MDM solution, and the Kajeet connectivity solutions both provide a combination of web filtering and inline security features to ensure a robust online security system for students.
  • The Kajeet dashboards allows complete visibility into what is happening on the network. Staff can see any suspicious activity and take action immediately.

Additionally, students are protected from malicious web pages and any known viruses, keeping them safe even if they accidentally stumble upon an dangerous website. For example, a popular education game site changed its URL and the old URL became malicious.

And yes, it even blocks Fortnite. We know many teachers are tired of battling for students’ attention while teaching because these students access Fortnite by getting around their school’s VPN (virtual private network). Kajeet didn’t have to take specific action to block this game, as our filters are already set up to ensure there is no access to entertainment or gaming.

We have a robust security platform for K-12, combining strong traffic analysis, web filters, firewall functionality, and threat identification and protection.  And you can see these results directly in Sentinel. 

See the Results with Reporting

Most IT teams tend to be reactive and jump into action when there is a hack. The everyday attempts (as 11 percent of educators witness), can easily turn into an actual incident if cybersecurity is lax.

This is why it is great to see what potentially malicious sites the Kajeet Sentinel filters block. Administrators gain access into which sites students try to visit when using Kajeet devices. Emphasis on try, as the reports will show certain sites were blocked.

The Sentinel dashboard provides a quick snapshot of all of your devices and the trends, such as most visited domain, and top denied website category, like social networking or entertainment.

It is always a relief to see that students are protected as they explore the online world. Leave the students to exploring and learning, and ensure the educators handle any cybersecurity issues.  

 

Topics: Mobile Broadband, Sentinel, Technology Insight


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