As I type this someone somewhere is falling victim to a computer virus. These small programs can do so much damage to a computer that it’s not worth the risk. You could be running a billion pound company and in three clicks your system is infected and your data is up for sale. You could be a small business owner and all those years of working are wiped out. The same applies to schools. Your customers data; in this case your pupils is the most important data you store. So how can you help protect this data – simple you need to reduce the risk of viruses.
Every school should have some form of ICT Policy that staff, students (if they are old enough), parents, visitors etc… should sign. Normally this covers the basics a template downloaded from a website, the header changed, school logo added and it’s done.
But do people read the policy or do they treat it like the terms and conditions you see when installing software on a computer?
Take a look around your school hand on heart how many people do you see with external hard drives, usb sticks or some sort of online storage open?
Your policy is being broken and people don’t think twice about it. Why? Is it because the tools you provide aren’t good enough?
All these work “life hacks” leave you open to risk. It’s a hard problem to solve you can throw money at the problem and put the best equipment and tools in but if your staff and other partners don’t change their attitudes your back at square one.
An iron fist approach will just send your guys underground.
The best way is to educate the educators and show them why they can’t do it. Explain the bad practice they are doing and ask them “How would you feel if you found out a loved ones personal details were now freely available on the Internet because someone left a USB stick on the bus?”
Once they understand give them the tools to reduce the risk of viruses:
Laptops and tablets can be password protected and given remote access to schools servers.
School issued external hard drives can be locked with a pin number. (The hard drive has a keypad built into it)
Services like Google and Microsoft 365 can be used to share data and enable collaprative working. You just need to know where they are storing the data.
Space is limited in schools but provide your staff with PPA area with computers and access to a printer so they don’t need to take work home and do it on the family PC with little to no anti-virus protection.
By giving the tools people need you can greatly reduce the risk to your school. Unfortunately unless you disable all USB cables and external devices you always run the risk of a virus getting in. Make sure you are running the latest anti-virus from your supplier your computers and tablets are all patched.
For more information about anti-virus software please take a look at this article.