Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Budget-Cut Blues and Network Security Necessities

What’s a school to do? Education budgets, especially in the United States, are being cut while network security threats continue to grow. School administrators and IT managers must meet growing compliance requirements, as well as face down the threats posed by students who have grown up on-line and know their way around network filters and blocks. Teachers, staff and students all have varying needs for access to the Internet and Web resources, but must also be monitored, provided secure connections and prevented from time-wasting or inappropriate sites. What’s a school to do?

For many schools, the first step is assessing their current network security configurations. Some points to consider when assessing the current network security system:

· Does the system achieve full compliance- such as with CIPA and other Federal and State requirements in the U.S. or BECTA in the U.K.?

· What reporting systems are in place? Efficient reporting functions can help save time and resources, reducing network security costs. How long does it take to run reports?

· Is it easy to monitor live logs as well as what’s been happening over the last 24 hours?

· Can you identify websites that might be potential time-wasters for staff and students, to save resources for those sites that promote instruction in the classroom?

Network security, when done right, should be a cost-saver. Likewise, when done right, network security is a productivity-booster. And, without a doubt, the risks and costs of an unsecured network are far greater than the expense of protection. So, while Benjamin Franklin (U.S. patriot, publisher, inventor, statesman and all-around intellectual) was famous for proving that lightning can strike a kite and shed light on the nature of electricity, he also famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Which does your school prefer? To be struck by lightning or to be protected from the viruses, worms, spies and dangers that lurk around the edge of your network? Network security is worth every penny, every pound and every dollar you invest in it.

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