5 Tips for Online Security in Schools
For our many school subscribers, January-February is that time each year when we automatically update their passwords to our secure website. As an organisation, we regularly review our online information security and data protection measures, just as each school does. We thought we would offer 5 tips for all schools subscribing to online software or with an online presence.
Ensure that your policies are up to date and that you have written permission for what you are displaying and why. You should not need more than is necessary. School staff are experienced when requesting permission for photographs but @SpeechLink now follows an increasing number of schools posting on social media (Facebook and Twitter). Has the permission form been updated for social media? And are parents fully aware of what this means?
2. PASSWORD SECURITY
However tricky it is to memorise the 20 passwords a day that you need before you’ve even had your morning coffee, it is important to keep them secure, especially when handling confidential pupil information. Nominate one person to change all passwords whenever a staff member leaves the team. Often, the only time a school’s Language Link password is changed is when we automatically change it annually. Don’t write passwords on a post-it note to stick to the computer. Avoid the ease of autosaving the password. We have known school staff to write their password on the whiteboard, allowing pupils to access the website for that day’s activity. Those pupils are digital natives and more able with ICT than we will ever be. And they have the time and interest to investigate further...
Clear management of policies, data and records, and the procedures surrounding them, are crucial to ensure that you have secure and justified information storage. Having one member of staff with this responsibility helps to minimise the risk of poor referencing as well as decreasing the risk of ‘misplaced’ information. When data is being used away from the school premises, encrypting the files is the safest protection. Here at Speech Link Multimedia Ltd, we use pin-protected memory sticks.
Ensure that any personal information is disposed of properly and without retrieval. There are professional organisations that wipe hard drives and similar electrical stores of information (which is probably safer than waving a hammer outside to smash up your hard drives followed by a blow torch; although that is an extreme solution!).
5. HELPFUL WEB LINKS: For Staff and Pupils
The Education Network’s e-safety section provides great tips for school internet safety: www.nen.gov.uk
For child safety, charming little book of advice for kids’ safety online provides a great way of sharing the dangers of the online environment in a light-hearted way: http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/teachers/ks1/sourcesDuck2/index.htm
CBBC also provides friendly advice to recommend to your pupils and children: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/curations/stay-safe
For further information, and to join in with Safer Internet Day 2017 07/02/17: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2017/about-safer-internet-day