The rapid use of Internet and emergence of broadband technology has completely transformed the Indian education system by moving learning beyond the physical limits of the classroom.
The increase in usage of digital devices like smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers by students has changed the way lessons are taught today. Students find it convenient and flexible to have 24/7 access to educational content on their personal devices from remote location. This gives them the freedom to decide where and when they want to study. While technology-enabled services have enhanced education quality, it has also raised security concerns for a safe learning environment. This is mainly due to an intensifying incidence of multiple users and applications, and rapid information uploads and downloads.
In order to maintain a safe and secure learning environment, management of educational institutions should focus on the following four broad measures to create a robust IT security framework:
Content Filtering and Compliance
The management must install web and content filtering solutions to ensure safe Internet browsing for students. It should restrict students’ access to inappropriate, offensive, and unsuitable websites. In case of institutions following global curricula, additional checks must be put in place to comply with international regulations like the CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) in the US and UKCCIS (UK Council for Child Internet Safety) in the UK.
Quality of Service (QOS)
Educational institutions must ensure that available bandwidth is utilized judiciously so that critical applications like online examination and training are not hampered. IT administrators should rationalize Internet usage by allotting time for each user thereby prioritizing bandwidth for critical applications and enhancing productivity. It will also help them save bandwidth costs as they spend only what they use. They should restrict students from downloading content with high bandwidth usage such as music, movies, online games, and streaming media.
Seamless Secured Connectivity
Educational institutions should ensure that data transferred within their network and user group is not hacked or tampered. The VPN (Virtual Private Network) enables a secure network connection that allows smooth hosting of online examinations and connection to the organisation’s network through personal devices. VPN helps transfer data in a secured and encrypted manner, making hacking of information difficult.
Securing Wi-Fi Network
The vulnerability of universities and colleges to cyber-attacks is higher in a Wi-Fi environment as anyone can breach the password security and enter their institutions’ network. The widespread usage of personal devices like laptops, notebooks, and tablets makes it difficult to install end-point security systems. Hence, a gateway security solution will help scan and block ingoing and outgoing traffic from virus, worms, malwares, and other threats right at the gateway.
Addressing the above mentioned areas could significantly reduce IT security threats faced by Indian universities and colleges. Unified Threat Management combines multiple security function into one hardware appliance, and is a single, simple, easy-to-operate, and cost effective solution to a comprehensive IT security for universities and colleges.