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Schools and students benefiting from improved security and safety features - N4L

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A nationwide rollout of world class cyber security technology that will help protect schools, teachers and their students against a rise of online threats has now reached the halfway mark, thanks to Crown Company Network for Learning (N4L).

More than 1300 of the 2450-plus New Zealand schools using N4L’s government-funded Managed Network internet services are now benefiting from an enterprise-grade firewall and web filtering solution designed to keep teachers and students safer when using the internet.

The cyber security rollout is the first phase of a wider upgrade to N4L’s Managed Network, and will improve a schools’ protection against online threats, such as phishing and ransomware; provide more advanced web filtering tools to keep students safer online; and will better equip schools to block the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) used by students attempting to bypass web filtering.

Research shows that New Zealand is in a unique position as one of the only countries in the world where the government is investing in a nationwide broadband programme that not only connects every school to fast, reliable and uncapped internet; but is also funding robust security for schools.

N4L CEO Larrie Moore says the rollout is progressing on schedule and within budget, with all schools scheduled to receive the new technology by the end of June, thanks to a partnership involving global cyber security company Fortinet, Spark New Zealand, and a panel of 12 local technology companies that are visiting every school to support the transition.

Chris Jarnet, principal of Ngaruawahia High School in the Waikato, is among the 1200 schools upgraded to the new cyber security software and says: "The safety and wellbeing of our students is of a huge priority for us, so having access to the tools and technology to keep our students safe online, at no extra cost to our school, is super important. The transition to N4L’s new security system was very smooth, and I am very happy with the end result."

Schools were invited to take part in a survey immediately following the upgrade to rate their experience, with 92.2% of the 511 respondents indicating they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the transition, a figure that Mr Moore attributes to the expertise of the wider team and the company’s six-year history working with schools.

"Everyone involved in this project is inspired by its social mission: that we are playing an important role in helping all young people get a great and safe online learning experience at school, laying some of the essential groundwork so they can go on to achieve great things."

"Schools are more vulnerable to cyber attacks if they aren’t equipped with the technology and skills to manage these risks. While technology is not a silver bullet, the expertise and technology being deployed in every school is world class, and will play a big part in detecting and preventing attacks, and mitigating the impact to schools."

What’s next

The next phase of the nationwide Managed Network upgrade programme will be providing eligible schools with access to bandwidth speeds of 1Gb by October. N4L will also be rolling out new reporting tools to help schools better understand and manage student internet use, including how much bandwidth they are using; which apps are using this bandwidth; and potential breaches of the school’s internet use policy.

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