School WiFi. For many of our digital natives, school WiFi may even be a more important part of their daily life than the canteen!! And that is saying something…
You’d be hard pressed to find a child who rocked up to school without a device in their backpack in our digital age. The vast majority of schools have embraced the many positive learning benefits that internet-connected devices offer our kids. The traditional blackboard and textbook lessons that were confined to the four walls of the classroom are gone. Instead our kids can research, discover, collaborate, create and most importantly, learn like never before.
But in order for this new learning to occur, our kids need to be internet connected. And this is where school WiFi comes into play.
Do Parents Need to Be Concerned About School WiFi?
As parents, we have a responsibility to ensure our kids are safe and not at risk – and that includes when they are using the WiFi at school. Ideally, your child’s school should have a secure WiFi network but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they do. School budgets are tight and top-notch secure WiFi networks are expensive, so in some cases, security maybe jeopardised.
The other factor we shouldn’t ignore is that our batch of digital natives are very tech literate. The possibility that one of them may choose to cause some mayhem to their school WiFi network should also not be ignored!!
At the end of the day, the security of a WiFi network is all about whether it has tight access controls. If it allows only approved devices and people to connect via a secure login then it is more secure than public WiFi. However, if it is open to anyone or easy for anyone to connect to it, then you need to treat it like public WiFi.
What Are the Risks?
An unsecured school WiFi network is as risky as public WiFi which, according to the Harvard Business Review, is as risky as rolling a dice,
Students and staff who use an unsecured WiFi network are at risk of receiving phishing emails, being the victim of a ransomware attack or even having their data or personal details stolen. There is also a risk that the entire school’s operations could be disrupted and possibly even closed down through a DDOS – a Denial of Service Attack.
What Can Parents Do to Ensure Their Kids Are Safe Using School WiFi?
There are several steps parents can take to minimise the risks when their offspring use school WiFi.
Talk To Your School
The first thing to do is speak to your child’s school to understand exactly how secure their network is. I’d recommend asking who has access to the network, what security practices they have in place and how they manage your child’s private data.
Install Security Software
Operating a device without security software is no different to leaving your front door unlocked. Installing security software on all devices, including smartphones, will provide protection against viruses, online threats, risky websites and dangerous downloads. Check out McAfee’s Total Protection security software for total peace of mind!
Keep Device Software Up To Date
Software updates are commonly designed to address security issues. So ensuring ALL your devices are up to date is a relatively easy way of minimising the risk of being hacked.
Schedule Regular Data Back Up
If you are the victim of a ransomware attack and your data is backed up then you won’t even have to consider paying the hefty fee to retrieve your (or your child’s) data. Backing up data regularly should be not negotiable however life can often get in the way. Why not schedule automatic backups? I personally love online backup options such as Dropbox and Google Drive however you may choose to invest in a hard drive.
Public Wi-Fi Rules?
If after talking to your school, you aren’t convinced that your child’s school WiFi network is secure, then I recommend that your kids should treat it as if it was public WiFi. This means that they should NEVER conduct any financial transactions using it and never share any personal details. But the absolute best way of ensuring your child is safe using an unsecured WiFi network, is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN like McAfee’s Safe Connect creates an encrypted tunnel so anything that is shared over WiFi is completely safe.
As a mum of 4, I am very keen to ensure my kids are engaged with their learning. And in our digital times, this means devices and WiFi. So, let’s support our kids and their teachers in their quest for interactive, digital learning but please don’t forget to check in and ensure your kids are as safe as possible while using WiFi at school.