Implementing BYOD? Now It’s Time to Protect Your School’s Network

Image via Wired

Image via Wired

You’ve done the research, you’ve weighed the threats, and you’ve polled parents. Conclusion? You’re moving full steam ahead with a BYOD plan for your school district. But, now you’ve got new things to think about. How can you protect your network when so many new devices start connecting? With a plan, and perhaps a few new gadgets, you can easily protect your network from threats.

Your first step on the path to network security is pretty straight-forward – develop a policy. Make it clear to students and teachers alike what’s considered acceptable use, who will be responsible for updates and maintenance, and what will be done in case something does go wrong. There’s no better way to handle a situation then to have all your bases covered and all important parties informed!

When it comes to your actual network, there’s a pretty simple solution there too. Instead of letting everyone onto a single network, create an entirely separate “guest” network for students to use. This way, student devices aren’t connected to a network that has access to servers with important information. As an added bonus, those separate networks provide an added barrier in case a virus does find its way in. Now it can’t spread through all the networks, because it has no access.

So, you’ve got the policy in hand and a new guest network set up. What’s next? The technology. In order to make sure your network is truly protected, you need to implement various devices to help protect against viruses, malware, and other malicious threats. A firewall is one must-have, which offers web filtering, helps protect against malware, and more.  You can also implement various other network devices, like a Load Balancer and Web Security Appliance, to help create layered security. Think of this like someone coming to double check your work. Network traffic filters through one device to remove any potential threats, like DOS attacks, and then filters through additional devices to remove threats the first device might have missed. If something still manages to sneak through, your firewall is there to catch it.

And, as one more line of defense, you can even implement Network Access Control appliances. With these, you can monitor devices that are logging onto your network and ensure that they have the latest software installed, stopping any potential threats at the source. If a device is identified as lacking software, you can put procedures in place to ensure it’s updated before that device is permitted to log onto the network.

It may seem frightening, and perhaps a bit daunting, to allow your students to bring their own personal devices to school. But, it is the 21st century, and perhaps learning really does need to change with the times. Thankfully, with a few steps and some new network devices, you can protect your school and your important information from threats when introducing your new BYOD policy.

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