Schools are increasingly switching onto the benefits of remote network monitoring, says Graeme Walker, senior IT technician at Newcastle-based Calibre Secured Networks Ltd. But what's the advantage and how do schools protect their investment?
Simply put, remote monitoring is a standard specification that enables a school’s network to be accessed and managed off-site from a central location using devices such as monitors or probes. The technology assists network administrators and those with responsibility for system security and control with the tools for efficient network infrastructure control and management.
Remote monitoring capabilities are especially helpful for small teams stationed in one spot but with responsibility for IT provision across wide sites. With remote network access, if a device goes down, you don’t have to travel to that location to identify and fix any problems. This saves time, increases productivity, and enables a school to rest easy knowing that the whole network is monitored 24/7.
However, understanding how to protect a network is as equally important as the initial investment, so schools need to consider a number of steps to identify where responsibility lies and processes reside. Here are some initial tips to get IT right:
Ensure school managers and governors acknowledge the importance of and responsibilities for maintaining e-Learning security.
If possible, work with an external technology partner, who offers objectivity, to ensure technical measures are in place to protect your school’s network. These include firewalls, filtering for malicious and inappropriate content etc.
Ensure and maintain user privileges for teaching staff, administrators and pupils to ensure they can access the required facilities while minimising the potential for deliberate or accidental misuse of the network.
Develop an e-security protocol to ensure everyone understands their obligations and responsibilities through easy-to-understand and intuitive education and training.
Establish and maintain proper processes to log, report on and monitor any e-security incidents
Make sure that you have the necessary technical protections in place to detect and prevent any malicious code or content damaging network confidentiality, integrity and availability.
Establish and maintain effective network monitoring to ensure attacks and other e-security breaches are detected quickly – enabling a rapid and proactive response.
Consider placing controls on the use of removable devices such as USBs, which can introduce malware inadvertently or accidentally to your network.
Also, ensure there are effective mechanisms in place to support remote use of school network facilities by staff and pupils, particularly for devices that are used onsite and beyond.
Adopting this kind of no-nonsense approach helps schools protect their network investments and reflects how expertise provided by Calibre, which combines technology and experience, can make an impact at, for instance, Sunderland’s Castle View Enterprise Academy among other sites.
There, the provision of technical expertise and remote networking support is delivering improved monitoring and identification of system performance, security and reliability issues, ensuring hundreds of 11-16 year old students are benefiting from access to state-of-the-art learning technologies and resources integrated into a school-wide system, that’s delivered across a network.
Lee Anderson, leadership and business support manager at Castle View Enterprise Academy, said: “Calibre impressed with a solution that will not only improve the quality of the network support we receive but also ensure our students continue to benefit from e-Learning in a safe and secure environment.”
The message is clear, get the protection right from the very start, and schools will enjoy the long-term benefits their network investment deserves. Take a short cut, or get it wrong, and you could be looking at years of heartache and headache. Can you afford the risk? Calibre solutions enable schools to maximise their return on investment through the deployment of technology to meet their business challenges.