Campus Security | News

63 Percent of Schools Plagued by at Least 2 Security Breaches in Last Year

Six out of 10 districts have experienced IT security breaches--either malware outbreaks or unauthorized user access--in the last year, leading to downtime for the school network. Three out of 10 spend more than 10 hours a month monitoring network activities for high-risk behavior. And IT people spend time every day removing viruses or malware from computers at 21 percent of districts; another 38 percent do the same "a few times a week."

Those are some of the findings of a survey recently done by a company that sells security products. In February 2011 Panda Security questioned 104 employees or consultants responsible for managing IT security at K-12 schools and districts about their security practices. None of the respondents was a Panda customer.

A whopping eight out of 10 districts reported that the district allows staff and students to connect to the school network on their own devices, but only seven of 10 perform any kind of control over external devices. At those districts 79 percent said that users are required to register their computers with the network; 86 percent block access to high-risk Web sites; and 89 percent require antivirus or anti-malware software to be installed on those devices. Fifteen percent admitted that their districts take no additional security measures for personal laptops.

Currently, districts show a slight preference for cloud-based security systems over traditional on-premises systems, 31 percent versus 29 percent. Another 16 percent use gateway devices, and the remainder use a combination. However, over the next year, another 53 percent expect to implement or add to their use of cloud technologies for network security, primarily because they believe cloud systems offer "better security," the report indicated.

"While the Internet is an invaluable tool for education, it can cause serious interruptions to day-to-day operations if schools fail to properly address security concerns," said Rick Carlson, president of Panda. "The findings of the 'Kindergarten-12 Education IT Security Study' point to a clear need for a security solution that effectively balances cost, time management, and superior protection."

The report is available on the Panda Web site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.