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The prevalence and sophistication of cyber-attacks are increasing all the time. With this is mind, we caught up with Neil Watkins, managing director of Think IT, on how schools can best protect their systems from being breached

The threat of a cyber-attack is prevalent within business, especially for larger companies which may have a lot of data and its reputation to protect. If you Google ‘cyber-attack’ multiple stories from the last week are bound to come up, highlighting the real danger of such attacks for every company; as we all know, it is no longer a question of if, but when. And this is now where the focus lies; to be fully protected, cyber-security systems need to know the moment there is a breach and to shut the network down immediately.

However, when it comes to the education sector, there is a misconception that schools are not as vulnerable to attacks as those in the corporate sector. This is simply not true. Schools need to be adequately prepared for a security attack. The government certainly recognises this with its 2016 green paper on the Industrial Strategy which introduced funding to schools for cyber-security.

Communication with staff 
It’s also important to have clear communication set out with staff about their responsibilities in relation to technology. Teachers are essential to ensuring the risk of an attack is minimised as they are responsible for data and passwords for each device and computer in the classroom. With this said, it is also a good idea to establish a clear, annual training plan to keep staff members up-to-date with any changes in the school, such as new software being used or government policy changes. 
The need for internet security is continuing to grow and schools must ensure that they are protected and compliant. We recommend that schools get ahead of the game now to install firm foundations on which to build future protection; we, in the education sector, need to act now to create safer online environments for the whole school. 

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