The Importance of Online Safeguarding for Educational Institutes
Online safeguarding refers to the protection of individuals and their data from various forms of online threat. Young people in schools and university represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. An online safeguarding breach can lead to severe risks in both their safety and mental wellbeing.
Identifying Challenges in the Online Educational Landscape
Due to the sensitive nature of the data being handled, institutions must take the highest level of care with their safeguarding approach. Schools face unique challenges like budgetary constraints and lack of Wi-Fi connectivity which can severely exasperate the following situations young people might face:
Cyberbullying and Online Harassment
Many schools have online learning platforms that encourage student participation and communication. This presents the obvious risk of young people being cyber bullied by peers or potential online predators. Harm can easily be inflicted on young people through a digital means, with wider implications on their mental health and potential real-world safety.
Many young people are unlikely to recognise what they are experiencing is cyberbullying and are even less likely to talk about it. Providing them the safeguarding tools is the first step in preventing it from happening. Educating young people on the topic can encourage them to recognise and report it.
Inappropriate Content Exposure
Students can also be at risk to the exposure of inappropriate content. Without necessary web filters, problematic websites, videos or photos could be shared. These can be damaging to a young person’s mental wellbeing and raise concerns amongst parents. Inappropriate websites can often invoke dangerous malware and cyber-phish too, potentially putting the entire online system at risk.
Different institutions will have different maturity levels and require access to certain learning materials in line with their age and area of study. Identifying this whilst still ensuring they are safeguarded from images and content that are never applicable is the end-goal here.
Privacy Concerns and Data Security
Personal information of young people represents a huge safeguarding concern for educational institutes. Contact details, home addresses, medical problems – these can all have real world and digital consequences if breached. Identity theft, online bullying or even real world crimes can all be linked to the exposure of a person’s private data being leaked via a data breach.
Tools and Technologies For improving Online Safety
As the accessibility of technology continues to grow, so too will an educational institutes ability to safeguard young people. Places of learning come with their own unique challenges, thus will require specific forms of technology and tools that are tailored to their specific needs.
Web Filtering and Monitoring
Web filtering refers to an institute restricting access to inappropriate and potentially harmful websites through preestablished filtering criteria. Monitoring algorithms can analyse the search history data and use it to create more accurate filters for certain sites.
Since young people are naturally inquisitive, web filters are a great way of prohibiting access to sites that can inadvertently put their mental wellbeing at risk and subject them to online scams and phish. Such filters are scalable too, meaning they can vary depending on the maturity level of the young people and the nature of the institution.
Cybersecurity Measures for Data Protection
These refer to digital safeguarding countermeasures protecting against online threats. They can involve, for instance, encryption protocols that render sensitive information into unreadable code requiring an encryption key to access. Education institutes should invest in firewalls, anti-virus software and strict access controls and permissions to this end.
Another route can involve multi-factor authentication. This ensures the only individuals able to login to a secure account are those part of the institution – teachers and pupils. Schools can also perform a data audit, analysing weak points and creating tailormade safeguarding recommendations for them.
Explore How Glide Can Support Your Safeguarding Requirements
The greatest limiting factor for an educational institute to safeguard against online threats is their level of connectivity. Through Glide Education, you can experience safeguarding, security and filtering solutions are powered by industry leading digital safety experts Netsweeper, Fortinet and R;pple.
Glide gave a range of available produces and also provide a fully managed end-to-end service. Enabling you to concentrate on doing what you do best.