IT Network Management Security in Education

Education IT
portrait of a young man sitting on a table in an office

IT departments in the education sector need to simplify security without sacrificing control. Schools need comprehensive, easy-to-manage network management solutions that enable IT staff to focus on one primary objective: providing a safe and available network for learning.

Every day, tech savvy students circumvent district policy with web-based proxies. In extreme cases, students are putting their new-found technology skills to illegal use. It’s common to hear in the news about schools that have been compromised by tech savvy students. Students have been caught hacking computer systems and installing spyware on school hard drives in order to access sensitive information from remote locations.

Dynamic web 2.0 content puts organizations at risk due to unprecedented exposure to inappropriate or legally dangerous content. Schools recognize that it’s unrealistic to block every IP address; but they also know they can no longer effectively enforce acceptable use policies based on static lists of “bad” URLs. Content on a single page can be comprised of multiple sources, both good and bad, and simple URL filters can’t keep up. Without the ability to accurately classify content in real-time through automated network management security, it’s impossible to protect students from accessing potentially harmful pages and sites.

Denying access to powerful web 2.0 applications because they might present risks to students or educators cuts schools off from the new world of communication that fosters collaboration and creativity. Schools are wired and some are going wireless. As a result, students are leading the charge into these uncharted territories. Whether it’s networking with friends on Facebook, blogging about their latest session in detention, or learning how to bypass simple Internet filters, students are digital natives who need to be controlled and protected.

Simply blocking their favorite sites or bandwidth-hogging mp3 files isn’t going to provide real protection against today’s IT network management security threats. Disallowing new IT security technologies simply to avoid those risks is becoming less and less practical. The prevalence of web 2.0 sites is so great (and growing so quickly), schools would have to ban sites with positive value like Google, Wikipedia, Engrade, Chalksite and Thumbstacks.

Automated Network Management

It’s not only about keeping students safe from objectionable content and child predators. These threats can cost schools time and money by shutting down critical applications, disrupting the learning environment and hurting network performance.

Educators should prepare for continuing network management security and IT systems management challenges in the coming years through automation. They must shift their protection emphasis from guarding against inbound attacks at the infrastructure level (a model suited to perimeter boundaries and the Internet as a simple content resource) to guarding essential information against blended threats and accidental or malicious loss.

Students will continue to stay one step of ahead of administrators if yesterday’s IT network management security solutions are used in the classroom. Hackers will continue to get creative and leverage user-created content and web 2.0 applications to create even more serious IT security concerns. Taking a preemptive approach enables schools and universities to say, “Yes!” to new technologies while providing network management security for students across all channels.

Learn more about automated network management security solutions for your educational IT environment. Listen to our informative webinar “Simplifying School IT Support without Breaking the Bank” now!

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