Protecting the next generation mobile first classrooms

Intelligent automation and wireless capacity are a recipe for success
By: | April 16, 2018 | Thought Leadership

What steps can organizations take to strengthen cybersecurity and protect themselves against threats from known and/or unknown actors and devices?

There are various scenarios to consider. You might have an unknown user interacting with the system, or a known user with an unknown device—Guest, BYOD and/or BYOT. Then there is a known user on a known device with proper credentials, but it nevertheless gets compromised. The best way to protect against all scenarios is through intelligent automation. For instance, take a newly installed irrigation control system, where it is simply supposed to access the Internet for weather information but begins attacking the student information system or acting like a server, sending alerts or large amounts of data. That’s a change of behavior and the network needs to see that change, detect it, and take steps to either quarantine it, or kick it off the network completely, notify the appropriate people and apply the appropriate security policies.

What do IT leaders need to consider as they install and refresh wired and wireless networks?

We know that mobile learning is a number one concern, with a slew of challenges for IT leaders. With the focus on transitioning to a mobile learning environment, wireless coverage is not enough. It’s about capacity. Plus, new products and technology are coming into the classroom and networks need to be able to handle it. For example, augmented reality, or virtual reality, headsets attach to the wireless network; they’re high-bandwidth applications and can crash the WiFi network if it wasn’t appropriately sized. If you don’t have the proper capacity to support all of these new devices coming in, learning will be interrupted and it will result in a significant waste of money and teachers’ time.

Can different uses and needs for bandwidth be prioritized?

Yes they can and they should. You want certain devices and applications to have priority. For example, you may have one classroom utilizing virtual reality headsets to go on a virtual field trip, while down the hall, they’re taking online assessments. You want to make sure that you’re prioritizing the traffic for those online assessments, even if that means a decreased quality for those virtual field trips. You need the ability to have that network dynamically assign the priorities based on what the local school policy says is a priority, and there are smart networks that are capable of doing that.

With this growth of Internet of Things, specifically in schools, how can IT professionals setup a network that can easily add, identify and secure IoT devices?

With the increase in IoT devices estimated at about 20 billion in the next couple of years and 82 percent of K12 professionals expecting IOT to be incorporated into core functional areas, it really comes down to what they’re connecting to. IOT devices could be wired or wireless and not all of them have the right security protocols, the proper certifications, or adhere to industry standards. You need a smart network that can detect and add those devices intelligently. A smart network can create a fingerprint for each IoT device, how it behaves, how it acts, what services it’s accessing—and the IT professionals can create a policy around that. They can say, “Okay, any device that connects with this type of fingerprint, categorize it as this type of device, and give it these roles and permissions.” That way IT doesn’t need to get involved every time a science teacher wants to create a robot in their class and give it network access.

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