As the world struggled through the global pandemic, the power of connectivity kept businesses, schools, and hospitals up and running.
But it also posed risks. And among the most vulnerable were children.
Safer Internet Day is celebrated each February across the world in over 100 countries, promoting the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. But is also a chance to reflect on how we can safeguard children from the growing numbers — and types — of security threats that they could potentially be exposed to.
Cisco technologies have helped support remote learning through corporate social responsibility programmes, like Cisco Networking Academy, and our partnerships with non-profits like Talking Points and MIND Research Institute. These organizations are playing an active role in the evolution of education, where in-school learning and remote learning blend into a more personalised and engaging experience for students.
As children and young people embrace new learning platforms, they also open themselves up to cybercrime, online bullying, harmful online materials — and people. There are many reasons why schools are targeted. The vast amounts of sensitive data they hold, for example pupils’ personal details, are a valuable commodity that can be sold for fraudulent purposes. And as more students move to online learning, distributed networks have expanded the threat surface, making them increasingly susceptible to attacks.
“Securing any type of organisation is an ever-changing and never-ending challenge, and it is essential to pinpoint the strategies that will keep students safe,” commented Helen Patton, Advisory CISO at Cisco. “Over the past two years, the pandemic has taught us a great deal, particularly around the importance of security.”
Safer Internet Day opens up a global conversation around how we can make sure young people and their learning environments are protected from existing and new threats, while maintaining a free and open network that allows young, adventurous minds to learn, collaborate, and understand their world.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come in supporting schools across a plethora of platforms, striving to give every student equal access to education. It is also a chance to reflect on how we can continue to encourage students and teachers to build supportive relationships and respectful communities, whilst equipping them with the skills they need to keep themselves and others safe in these spaces.
“Developing a robust security policy that is shared with both teachers and pupils is essential,” Patton said, “because children must also learn to protect themselves, for example by not posting personal information online, or understanding that people online may not always be who they say they are. But an effective security strategy in a school or organisation is about more than technology alone, it’s about people, process, and technology — and all three of these areas working together.”