BYON: Securing the Classroom and Student Privacy

Student privacy and the protection of student data have been hot topics south of the border, but this issue is only hovering on the periphery of classroom technology discussions here in Ontario.

Mobility in educational institutions

Photo by Adam Fagen

As educators strive to integrate technology in the classroom and foster 21st century skills for students, it’s important that we be proactive about protecting student data rather than be reactive after the harm is already done.

In the past, IT administrators could block access to select apps and web environments through control policies, but today, students can circumvent school filters by using their own mobile networks and Wi-Fi hot-spots. This trend of “BYON” (Bring Your Own Network) is the latest security concern for school IT administrators, as classrooms go digital and school boards accommodate an increasing variety of student-owned devices in the classroom.

BYON occurs when students create a wireless hot spot by tethering the cellular connection of their personal mobile phone to the computing device. Alternatively, students can also create hot spots by bringing in a small wireless router that plugs into an electrical outlet. Using these BYON methods, students can freely access social media or questionable sites that are blocked by school administrators.

As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are adopted in Ontario’s educational institutions, there will inevitably be an increase in the variety of networks, cloud services and the number of devices operating at any given moment.

As a result, school administrators are faced with the ever-challenging job of finding ways to protect students from spreading malware, preventing malicious data leaks and ultimately gaining visibility of all the devices on their network.

The best way to reduce the risk of BYON is by implementing a combination of security technologies and policies that work in a coordinated way to secure students, their data and their devices.

Most schools have firewalls and network security in place, along with identity management and content separation. The trick is to find a way to enable BYOD while mitigating the risks posed by BYON.

That’s the solution Spyders makes available to educators through IntelliGO, which integrates with multiple security technologies to reduce the risks posed to students and schools.

Here’s how IntelliGO works:

  1. IntelliGO helps organizations see all of the devices accessing their network: This helps administrators easily manage devices and enforce policies.
  2. Administrators are able to limit and withdraw access as needed: IntelliGO gives you control over who and what devices can access your network, allowing you to limit and withdraw access with a single push of a button.
  3. Administrators can control content and resources: In conjunction with a firewall like Palo Alto Networks, IT managers gain granular control over what resources users can access as they implement restrictions & policy settings. This gives them the ability to separate teacher resources from student resources. In addition, content filtering can restrict questionable web environments.

IntelliGO provides control and visibility over the entire mobile device lifecycle, integrating multiple security aspects of mobile enablement into a single, easy-to-use platform. It can effectively and securely enable BYOD in the digital classroom and reduce the risk of BYON.

On top of that, IntelliGO is available at preferred rates to connected institutions on ORION’s network. It also eases the burden on IT administrators as they strive to protect student data.

Putting systems such as IntelliGO in place from the start can protect student data before it is ever compromised, enabling a safe and secure mobile experience in education.

Want to know more about IntelliGO?


About the author: Ahmad Abdalla is the Marketing Analyst of Spyders, network and information security advisors. Spyders is a cloud solutions partner in ORION’s Nebula program.