Since January of 2016, there have been over 700 cyber incidents reported in K-12 public schools and districts in the United States. One look at the K-12 Cyber Incident Map, and you’ll get an idea of how far-reaching this problem is. It’s not just a U.S. concern either. In the UK, four out of five schools have experienced at least one cybersecurity incident.
Hackers aren’t looking to find out what grades your students received on their latest spelling tests. As Mary Kavaney, the chief operating officer of the Global Cyber Alliance explains, school environments “have some of the richest personal information on people, including social security numbers, birth dates, and, potentially, medical and financial information.”
How can educators protect digital assets and information in schools? Here are five strategies to increase protection.
1. Secure your devices from physical attacks
Would you believe that the second most popular password is “password?” Its popularity is only surpassed by “123456,” which has been the most common password for five years running. Suffice it to say, these passwords may be easy to remember, but they are not secure. The Texas Computer Education Association recommends these cybersecurity tips for teachers using technology in the classroom. “Frequently change your password throughout the school year, and don’t ever write it down. Always make sure to log out of your computer when you step away from your desk, and avoid letting students use your computer, especially when it’s logged into your account.”
Are you wondering how you’ll ever remember all of those passwords if you can’t keep them on a post-it “hidden” under your keyboard? Password managers help create better passwords and keep track of all of your login information to strengthen online security. Wired calls them the “vegetables of the internet.” Because “We know they’re good for us, but most of us are happier snacking on the password equivalent of junk food.” It’s time to listen to our mothers and eat our veggies!
2. Lock up your devices
Not using your beloved pet’s name for a password is a great first step to securing your school’s digital assets. But we think an even better one is keeping devices out of the wrong hands in the first place. Did you know that 41% of data breaches are due to lost and stolen mobile devices? It’s essential to protect your students and your school by securing devices with both digital security and physical security when not in use. Implementing durable, secure charging stations will protect devices and the data that’s on them. Not to mention decrease costs. As careful as educators try to be with their hardware, 10% of mobile devices break or go missing in the first year of a smart classroom deployment. A centralized point of secure charging helps schools provide a repository for tablets and laptops, reducing breakage and loss. As the use of technology in education increases, the critical oversight of not protecting your devices when not in use can create painful hassles for students, teachers and administrators alike. By using a secure device charging station, you’ll minimize per-student and per-educator device costs.
3. Keep programs up-to-date
“Updates ready to install.” We’ve all seen this message before. Unfortunately, many of us are quick to click the “remind me later” button without giving it another thought. Until, of course, it pops up again later. If you want to prevent malicious attacks by shutting the door malware uses to exploit loopholes, it’s critical to keep your software up to date. Software updates are patches that often fix security holes. Don’t be the one-in-ten users that never installs them. Enabling automatic updates will keep your devices safer without those pesky notifications because your device will automatically install critical updates when they become available. As security specialist David Longenecker writes, “If your car had a factory defect that might leave you stranded on the side of the road, and offered a free fix, you’d take them up on it, right? This is the same thing.”
4. Have an incident response plan
Just as your school has a plan in place in case of a fire, educators need a plan in place in case of a digital emergency such as a security breach. An incident response plan will prepare students and staff if a cybercrime occurs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Prompt response is essential for minimizing the risk of any further data loss and, therefore, plays an important role in mitigating any negative consequences of the breach, including potential harm to affected individuals.” Check the ED’s helpful Data Breach Response Checklist, which illustrates some current industry best practices in data breach response and mitigation applicable to the education community.
5. Educate staff and students
All levels of education benefit from training programs for both faculty and students on cybersecurity. Don’t assume staff members automatically understand how to handle the enormous responsibility of accessing student data. As Tech Edvocate advises, “Staff members need to know how to access information responsibly, know how to use a notification system for breaches, and should understand what to do in case of a breach.” Also, students need instruction on how to manage their digital identities. By teaching students how to manage their personal data, maintain digital privacy and identify data-collection technology used to track them online, they’ll not only be protected at school, “but for the rest of their lives.”
With LocknCharge solutions, teachers don’t have to worry about the safety of the devices as they use them to implement a blended learning model and create a 21st-century learning environment. Read how one California district protects its technology investment and keeps devices safe with over one hundred LocknCharge Carrier 40 Carts.
Back in the mid-‘80s, when overhead projectors and Trapper Keepers in Day-Glo colors were all the rage, schools averaged about one computer for every 92 students. Today, nearly three-quarters of districts average at least one device for each student. Educational organizations have been leading the charge on mobile deployments (e.g. iPads in the classroom) for almost a decade, employing charging and storing solutions for shared devices to protect their investments and make life easier for teachers and staff.
Schools that employ charging and storing solutions for their mobile devices take advantage of three significant benefits: ensuring devices are fully charged and ready to use, securing them from accidental loss or theft, and simplifying how shared devices are distributed.
Ensuring Devices Are Ready to Use
With school-owned and personal mobile devices in heavy use, they’re bound to lose their charge at some point during the day. Plugging a device into any available outlet may seem like the obvious solution, but outlets are hard to come by and do not provide protection against breakage or theft. On-demand, centralized and secure charging towers offer a modern convenience without expensive infrastructure updates to the school.
One learning information systems coordinator in Wisconsin has first-hand experience with the challenge of students needing to charge their devices throughout the day. “Kids were leaving devices wherever there was an open outlet. At one point, an outlet in the cafeteria was being used so frequently that it disrupted the lunch line,” explained Kim Bannigan. Find out how the DeForest Area School District supports an open learning environment with LocknCharge’s easy-to-manage charging stations.
Securing Devices from Loss or Theft
An effective school safety and security program addresses both physical and online threats. Since January of 2016, there have been over 700 cyber incidents reported about K-12 public schools and districts in the United States. In the UK, over four-fifths of schools have experienced at least one cybersecurity incident.
10% of mobile devices break or go missing in the first year of deployment, and 41% of data breaches are due to lost and stolen mobile devices. One critical way to secure your devices from physical attacks is to keep them out of the wrong hands in the first place. Implementing durable, secure charging stations will offer theft protection and safeguard devices when not in use, providing significant savings on replacement hardware while avoiding costs incurred from compromised data. Ultra-secure locking systems protect mobile devices from theft, breakage and loss, giving educators peace of mind that their devices are always safe and sound.
Find out how LocknCharge’s durable, secure and transportable Carrier Carts protects the technology investment for one California district, ensuring that students can benefit from the mobile devices for years to come.
Simplifying How Devices are Distributed
From inputting endless data to raising standardized test scores, it’s no surprise that teachers feel overwhelmed. A quality of work survey found that educators and school staff find their work twice as stressful as the general workforce. Technology shouldn’t add to the stress of managing numerous day-to-day duties. By simplifying how devices are set up and distributed, educators can spend more time teaching and less time tracking down and handing out devices.
Retaining high-performing teachers is key to a productive classroom. If teachers feel unsupported as new technology is introduced, attitudes can quickly go from excitement to frustration. Easy and efficient mobile device workflow in the classroom can mitigate that frustration and improve teacher satisfaction. Innovative features in a charging solution like charging status indicator lights and mobile device baskets can simplify daily device distribution–giving teachers more control over how they use their class time.
When educators feel supported by their district, they know that their personal well-being is important. Time-saving baskets allow teachers and students to quickly and safely distribute devices every day, putting up to two weeks of class time back into the hands of teachers every year. Also, simple and organized cabling cuts setup time in half, easing the burden of a device deployment on your school’s IT team. Staff will feel supported and know their time is valued when they find more time freed up to focus on forward-thinking initiatives.
Learn how the flexibility of LocknCharge solutions significantly reduces the time to deploy over 34,000 devices for the Grand Prairie Independent School District.
All of these benefits ensure that devices can provide the level of utility and productivity that educators demand. Is your school or district in the research or pilot stage of deploying devices? No matter the stage of your organization’s mobile device deployment, we invite you to understand better the drivers behind workforce mobilization and best practices of those deployments in our eBook on Mapping the Mobile Device Journey.