Keeping Children Safe in Education - IA Computing

Providing effective online safety

Security researchers believe that there will be a marked increase in attacks on schools, because the data they now hold is believed to be 100 times more commercially valuable to hackers.  So keeping children safe in education is a number one priority.

The protection of these systems and their data relies upon security – good security works on a layered approach and it’s the combination of these layers that will provide a safe and secure environment.

Security Considerations

The basic and most common level is physical access, for example, you keep your servers in a physically secure environment and control access to the area.  Next, you can employ user access permissions via the use of usernames and passwords to control access to the different systems and solutions.

Given the workload on teachers today, many will regularly work from home after school hours, to finish logging the day’s events, marking and preparing lessons, so the above protection option is no longer sufficient or efficient for this purpose.  This is where Firewalls and Secure Remote Access appliances bridge the gap and play a pivotal role in e-security.

So, what is a Firewall?

Microsoft’s definition of a Firewall is as follows:

‘A firewall is software or hardware that checks information coming from the Internet or a network, and then either blocks it or allows it to pass through to your computer, depending on your firewall settings’.

A firewall can help prevent hackers or malicious software (such as worms) from gaining access to your computer through a network or the Internet.  A firewall can also help stop your computer from sending malicious software to other computers as well.

The following illustration shows how a firewall works:

Microsoft-Firewall

Just as a brick wall can create a physical barrier, a firewall creates a barrier between the Internet and your computer.

‘A firewall isn’t the same thing as an antivirus program. To help protect your computer, you need both a firewall, an antivirus and an anti-malware program.’

This may sound simple, but with all things in the technology arena – hackers, malware and worms -have become more sophisticated, leaving older generation firewalls unable to protect your network from attack or infection.

This is where ‘Next-Generation Firewalls’ (NGFW) play a part.  Next-Generation Firewalls provide multiple network security technologies in one package.

Are all Firewall’s the same?

The answer is simply ‘No’.

Modern firewalls are now referred to as Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW), because they combine the features of traditional firewalls, gateway anti-malware products, intrusion prevention systems and content filtering packages. But more importantly, Next-Generation Firewalls utilize Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to decrypt and inspect SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) traffic into and out of the network, meaning they can detect and block malware concealed in SSL traffic and with more and more organisations using secure web sites by default, it is now a must that you’re able to check this traffic.

Next-Generation Firewalls also offer application intelligence and control; they can recognise traffic belonging to specific applications and enforce your acceptable-use policies. They can even allocate bandwidth to high-priority applications.

The recent hacks on a number of leading companies just highlights the importance of making sure your security products are up-to-date, correctly configured and more importantly, able to cope with the threats in today’s society.

We can summarise the features of a Next-Generation Firewalls as follows:

  • Stop malware, intrusions and advanced attacks
  • Inspect SSL traffic for malicious code
  • Application intelligence and control
  • Visibility into users
  • High performance and scalability

What would we recommend? 

This will depend on your network, as they aren’t all the same and everyone will have different priorities and requirements.  This is where consultations with us as your security and network adviser comes in.  We have the knowledge and understanding to help guide you towards the right product(s) for your network.

That said, as a long-standing SonicWALL partner, we have found that they have a good range of security products that will fit most clients and scenarios. We invite you to take a look at our case study and the SonicWALL Security site for more information.

We can help

We would be delighted to talk to you about SonicWALL products, so please click on the contact us link to get in touch!