Are secure education Internet services under threat?

The adoption of sub-standard approaches as a result of cost cutting will impact provision of efficient and compliant internet access for pupils, parents, teachers and lecturers.

As budgets shrink and education moves towards virtual learning platforms, it is becoming more critical for organisations to cost effectively monitor internet content and application activity through, from and to a network at the same time as balancing ease of access with security.

Without secure authenticated internet services, education establishments limit the capability for technology education and further attainment goals plus they leave networks open to abuse.

Technology in education is a sensitive necessity proven to further learning speed, breadth and depth. The move towards virtual learning platforms is superb progress but properly managed internet access is at the core of the approach.

With the current economic environment, establishments are now faced with some serious challenges of service provision. Concern is emerging that security and quality of internet delivered services is under threat due to cost reduction. This could be a major blow to furthering technology education and attainment.

Some education establishments have said they are considering whether to offer internet enabled services at all or indeed just cut corners with lesser solutions. For the University neither are realistic options.

A well managed internet service, that opens the door to larger virtual learning platform capability, should include a fully authenticated remote access approach that validates users considerably before providing secure access. Without this, the door is open for viral or malicious system attacks and outsiders to abuse access to the organisations network, files and services. And this can be done cost effectively.

Furthermore, a fully managed firewall will ensure once access has been achieved, users are focussing their efforts on education goals rather than abusing bandwidth to download music, view sites like Facebook, YouTube or even pornography. A quality approach enables monitoring and blocking of inappropriate sites and applications down to individual end user level.

Without these secure and managed approaches, education will leave itself liable to internet abuse or restrict its community from optimised learning. Again, neither is an option.

The key is for specifiers to meet the challenges of reducing capex and opex whilst improving service delivery quality to users as opposed to just maintaining it. That means more efficient and compliant services for less money. It can be done!

Mark Allbutt is Technical Manager, Icomm Technologies. Mark is renowned as a technical ICT leader who is happy to share his cutting edge opinions. His decades of technical expertise stem from delivering on infrastructure, desktop and server support briefs within some of the most demanding ICT environments. Mark prides himself on excellence and runs a major program to test, evaluate and deploy appropriate emerging technologies that meet his approval. Having run two growth IT businesses, Mark puts business benefits at the heart of his opinions and offers considerable gravitas when talking around high end business solutions and the latest B2B and B2C technologies.