The education industry is quietly going through a digital transformation of its own, as we recently found out
The security side-effect
Of course, accompanying this increased use and reliance of technology is the all-pervasive issue of cyber security, which is affecting all manner of organisation from global banks to NHS Trusts and fast-food chains.
It’s an area that both Barnes and Johnson picked up on, as schools and colleges have often found it difficult to strike a balance between convenience and security.
“A lot of schools have really struggled with that whole security piece and it’s almost become black and white in terms of the way they have approached it,” said Johnson.
“Either they have a very secure Wi-Fi network, which means its difficult for the student to onboard themselves and consequently they are less engaged in doing it.
“Or they have a completely open network that’s very easy to get onto, but you’re compromising security and that’s been a real conundrum for the education market for years.”
Barnes agreed, suggesting that schools have become “soft targets” for cyber criminals because this reliance on convenience has resulted in “porous” networks and that the outcome of a cyber attack could have wider implications than just the loss of data.
“I think most schools could mitigate a typical ransomware attack relatively well without much expenditure because most schools backup, so the cost of the data you’d lose is relatively small compared to financial institutions and places like that.
“But when schools get hacked it moves the focus away from education and this big pile of cash goes into stuff that will make it less porous – and probably less flexible as well – but that has come away from the classroom.”