Schools Need Ease of Access and Security, Too

While the education industry isn’t normally thought to be handling highly secure information, it is still extremely important to ensure security of school’s information. The education industry has a large number of breaches every year, right behind the government and healthcare sectors and there have been many examples of breaches from students accessing and changing grades in their teacher’s accounts to students actually hacking into the network and stealing other student’s Social Security numbers or even credit card information. While some of these more advanced breaches take place in higher education, students in middle and high school have also caused many security issues.

Like most organizations, schools need to ensure the security of their information. But it is understandable that they also don’t want to implement any kind of security process that is inconvenient or difficult for staff, students and parents to access or manage. Students, in particular, are required to remember in school: their locker combination, Blackboard credentials, email credentials, gym combination, course work, etc. Thus, they are likely going to write some of this information down. If they are doing it, what about the teachers and other school employees? They also need to remember a myriad of credentials, as well as everything they are teaching or working on. To remember all of this information they write it down, too, creating an open security risk.

But there are many solutions available to automate this process for teachers and students to access what they need (at least on the computer) and ensure security of the school’s network. For example. A web single sign-on (SSO) solution allows users access to a portal from anywhere they are doing their work, at any time, from any device. This makes it extremely easy for students and teachers to access the resources they need, without needing to remember and enter 10 or more different sets of credentials. The concern, though, is on the teacher and employee side. While this makes it simple for them, how does it help with the security of the applications they access?

Teachers tend to do a majority of their work and grading from home or outside of the school. A web SSO portal increases security to the network and information stored there by eliminating the need to write down credentials, but may still make the school IT leaders nervous since these applications with secure data are being accessed outside of the school. Two-factor authentication can be combined with this type of solution to require the user to enter a PIN code sent via text message in conjunction with their user name and password. Other forms of two-factor authentication can also be used, such as access cards, physical biometrics or even behavioral biometrics, such as the way a person types or enters their password.

As security breaches in the educational industry are increasing, schools need to ensure that they have measures in place to secure their network, while not interfering with student and employee productivity.