As technology plays an increasingly vital role in education, it is more important than ever to ensure students and staff are kept safe online. Here, we explore the concept of digital footprints and how district leaders can implement strong, effective cybersecurity measures for their school community.
Understanding Digital Footprints
Digital footprints consist of passive data trails left behind while using various online platforms. Students often remain unaware of the information they inadvertently share by connecting to different WiFi networks or visiting websites. Similar to leaving footprints in the sand, these digital footprints are unconsciously created with each online activity. Clicking on websites, viewing or downloading images, and using online resources all contribute to the creation of a digital footprint. Understanding the impact of this ‘passive trail’ is crucial for both students and educators.
Balancing Access to Technology Resources and Online Safety
School districts face the challenge of providing students and staff with access to technology resources while ensuring their online safety. Implementing network security measures is a key aspect of achieving this balance. By employing firewalls, activity detection programs, and restricted access policies, districts can protect their networks and reduce the risk of cyber threats. Tools like dashboards can enable administrators to control app usage, internet access, and maintain a secure environment for students.
Hear insights from Eileen Belastock, former K-12 CTO & CEO of Belastock Consulting, shared on a recent Kajeet webinar.
Contingency plans play a vital role in ensuring the continuity of technology resources in the event of cyberattacks or system failures. These plans should encompass pre-attack preparation, response during an attack, and mitigation efforts post-attack. By involving various stakeholders such as superintendents, guidance counselors, principals, teachers, and IT professionals, districts can develop comprehensive contingency plans to account for essential functions like offline operations, communication with families, and secure data management during times of crisis.
Promoting Awareness and Education
Education is paramount when it comes to promoting awareness and maintaining cybersecurity within educational institutions. Talking your team through a variety of cybersecurity attack scenarios helps all stakeholders understand the potential risks and responses.
Additionally, establishing digital literacy and computer science standards from pre-K to 12th grade is essential for equipping students with the necessary skills to navigate the digital world safely. Educating students, staff, and parents on topics such as phishing attempts, responsible data sharing, and recognizing online threats is crucial to establishing a strong security culture.
Implementing Best Practices
There are a number of best practices that help secure digital footprints and contribute to the health of your school or district’s cybersecurity.
Education: Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness by educating students, staff, and parents about online safety, responsible data sharing, and cybersecurity practices.
Safeguards: Implement robust security measures, including firewalls, activity detection programs, and restricted access policies, to protect networks and digital resources.
Contingency Plans: Develop comprehensive contingency plans that account for various scenarios, ensuring the continuity of technology resources in the face of disasters or system failures.
Password Management: Encourage regular password changes and the use of secure passwords or phrases. Implement single sign-on options to streamline access while maintaining security.
Reporting and Support: Establish a system for reporting suspicious activities, phishing attempts, and potential security breaches. Provide support and guidance to students and staff when dealing with cybersecurity issues.
Safeguarding digital footprints is a critical responsibility for educational institutions in the digital age. By understanding the impact of digital footprints, implementing network security measures, and educating stakeholders, schools can foster a secure online environment for students and staff.
Want to talk over how you can get your students connected AND keep them safe? Reach out to us here, and an EdTech expert will be in touch shortly:
Krystle Pearson, M.Ed. is the Kajeet Education Sr. Marketing Manager, bringing with her 16 years of experience, including her most recent role as a K-12 Director of Technology. She also serves on the Executive Board for the Virginia Alliance of Black School Educators.