With the availability of easily accessible attack tools, everyone is at risk - including school districts. New vulnerabilities and exploits are discovered on a daily basis. Incidents are on the rise and a substantial percentage of cybersecurity incidents involving schools are due to the actions of school staff and/or students of those schools - sometimes resulting in criminal charges.
It’s 2008 and you just deployed wireless access points in all the hallways and common areas of your schools. You apply a simple password and give it out to all the staff. Voila! You have a wireless-accessible network.
At this point, most IT staff were content with the setup. It was a simple solution to a simple problem. Device density was not an issue since most schools only had a handful of laptops or wireless devices. Every kid and staff member did not need to stream Netflix or Youtube throughout the day. It was easy. It was simple. It was the past.
The Problem: Time Management
Time management is a problem many IT departments face; often there is just not enough time to complete all the requests in the time they need to be completed by. This is especially true between the times of student registration and the first student day of school. The IT staff is burdened with making hundreds, if not thousands, of Active Directory user changes and new accounts. Active Directory serves as the central source of user accounts for a long list of applications including G Suite for Education, Microsoft Office 365, PIVOT, Canvas, Student Information Systems, Content Filters, and many more.
The Windows OS Lifecycle
Windows 10 is the next major version in the Microsoft Windows operating system family, seeing its initial release in July of 2015. As part of Microsoft’s OS lifecycle, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will stop receiving updates and support in January of 2020 and 2023, respectively. In addition, 7th Generation CPUs from AMD and Intel are already requiring Windows 10 for driver compatibility, so anything released after early 2017 excludes compatibility with the earlier OSes. Since Windows 10 has matured considerably since the initial release, and with the end of life of Windows 7 less than a year away, it’s definitely time to begin migrating!
New network vulnerabilities and exploits are discovered on a daily basis. The protection that was adequate just a few years ago doesn’t even come close to protecting your school district today. Mid-sized and small K-12 districts used to feel a certain amount of safety in security through obscurity - meaning a feeling that you don’t have anything hackers want - they’ll leave you alone.
If you support technology in schools, then you know that the beginning of the year is a chaotic and stressful time of year. Our experienced crew of onsite technicians, engineers, trainers, and directors take great pride in the work we do to partner with school districts to calm the storm, train on the new tools/devices, and place the focus on what matters most - creating awesome learning experiences for kids. For this blog entry, we humbly share some of the comments that warmed our hearts at the beginning of this school year.
Our techs and schools work tirelessly at the end of the year to ensure that device collection goes smoothly. Though they expect the occasional problem, they don't always anticipate some of the conversations they have with their students and staff. In honor of the end of the year, we offer you the top ten comments our techs heard during device collection last year.
"No one can whistle a symphony alone. It takes a whole orchestra to play it."
This is the third post of a three-part series about ways to strengthen communication between technology staff team members within your school district. Be sure to check out our first and second posts for more great ideas for facilitating communication between teachers and techs.
Effectively communicating with co-workers can sometimes be a challenge. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we say one thing, but others hear something different based on our tone, facial expression, or body language. When you are a technician, face-to-face communication may not always be possible, so it is even more important that you say what you mean, clearly and concisely so there are not any misunderstandings. Reminding ourselves of these things will help keep everyone on the same page and facilitate successful communication among team members.