Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has, until now, been an issue facing the business environment. Now schools are facing the same issue with both students and teachers using their own laptops, tablets and smartphones within the school network. This increases the possibility of malware, hacking, lost data and personal identity invasions and makes setting and enforcing security policies highly problematic.
Starting this year Tasmania has introduced a BYOD policy into its schools, and elsewhere individual schools are scrambling to widen the security net to cater for student BYOD.
Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG Technologies AU, said: “With all these devices active in the playground, even primary school students are now exposed to the Wild West of malware. Sadly, any expectation that the laptops will only be used for school-related research and have only school work stored on them is just not workable. The onus is back on parents to take an active interest in what their children are taking to school and to apply strict security regimes for all Internet enabled devices they use.”
Here are AVG’s top 10 recommendations for your Back to School Technology Checklist:
1. First line of defence: your firewall
Turn on firewalls for both wireless and local area networks. If your operating system doesn’t have a firewall built in, look for a compatible third-party firewall solution. AVG Internet Security includes an enhanced two-way firewall that not only prevents hackers and malware from getting onto your computer but also prevents any infection already on your computer from spreading or sending information to the cybercriminals.
2. Upgrade to the latest versions of applications and operating system
The more regularly all your software is updated, the safer you are. Automatic updates are ideal. Always upgrade to the latest versions of applications, operating system, security and anti-virus software, as well as the browser and utility software you use online such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash.
3. Do a Back to School scan and clean up
Be sure to check and update computers with a full anti-virus scan for any that have been offline or used by visitors during the school holidays. Protect your home and devices with always on, automatically updating security software. Change default passwords on any new equipment acquired over the holiday season, and switch on every available security option embedded in your smart devices.
4. Age appropriate settings
Constant monitoring of nanny and privacy settings is essential so that children have age appropriate access to the Internet. Handy tools such as AVG’s free Family Safety Browser enable you to restrict access to inappropriate sites on Apple iOS and Windows phones.
5. Log out and lock up
You should constantly reinforce the log out, lock up message. To avoid problems, children need to learn the habit of logging out of web sites, social networks and PC accounts as they finish using them, both at home and at school. And they should never share passwords with friends. Turn on password-protected screen savers, preferably set to timeout in 10 or 15 minutes.
6. Have a backup plan — use an Internet-based remote backup solution.
Back to School will mean back to the drawing board if your child loses all their work through device loss, theft or damage. If students do lose their homework or assignments, an automated remote backup solution makes it easy to recover all their missing material.
7. Another important message: What goes online, stays online.
Remind your kids that whatever is posted online may be forwarded and published on social networks, Google and other search engine results. Even if you delete a post, others won’t. Think about who may read a message or see a photo — teachers, family members, friends, even future employers. If you don’t want them to see it — don’t post it. Take the time to go through each social network account with your children and select the highest privacy settings at every level.
8. Don’t leave your smartphone on the bus
Smartphones can easily fall out of pockets or tablets can be left on the school bus – AVG’s free AntiVirus for Android phones and tablets allows devices to be tracked using GPS location technology and remotely wiped. Devices should also be secured with a PIN so they can’t be used without permission – and we suggest you change the PIN for the new school year.
9. USB memory sticks
While these are highly convenient for students to transport files, if lost or stolen the private data and assignments may end up in the wrong hands. It’s worth investing in a memory stick that allows you to put a lock/PIN or encrypt data to restrict access. Put all your sticks through regular anti-virus scans and keep backups of all files to avoid getting caught by stick corruption. Attach memory sticks to brightly coloured, individual lanyards so they are not so easy to misplace or forget.
10. Which one’s mine?
As well as labelling uniforms, lunchboxes and books, also clearly label all gadgets and devices. Doing this can make returning misplaced items easier and help avoid confusion when classmates arrive with identical looking devices.