School and student safety
How to build a comprehensive digital safety strategy
March 21, 2022
Every school administrator we speak with is focused on finding comprehensive solutions to the digital safety issues their schools and students are facing — and this can be a tough challenge. Esafety tools are more than just “nice to have”. In many cases, digital safety in schools is required by law. For example, The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) legally requires schools to block internet access to material that is considered harmful to minors in order to qualify for discounts offered by the E-rate program. When considering safety solutions, administrators and IT staff must also consider cost, integration capabilities, implementation, and upkeep requirements. In addition, comprehensive solutions offer a variety of features, and it can be difficult to ensure no aspect of school or student cyber safety is overlooked.
To help, Lenovo recently announced a three-pronged digital safety solution that brings together best-in-class education technologies for a holistic approach to school and student safety. If you’re in the process of researching digital safety solutions, there are a few key threats you’ll need to understand and address.
“Safety is a top priority for every administrator and IT director, but there’s only so much anyone can do on their own to protect students from digital dangers,” said Coby Gurr, General Manager of Lenovo Software. “Lenovo’s three-pronged online safety solution helps schools leverage a comprehensive ecosystem of smart security tools, keeping kids safer online while empowering them to develop digital literacy skills.”
“Safety is a top priority for every administrator and IT director, but there’s only so much anyone can do on their own to protect students from digital dangers. Lenovo’s three-pronged online safety solution helps schools leverage a comprehensive ecosystem of smart security tools, keeping kids safer online while empowering them to develop digital literacy skills.”Coby Gurr, General Manager of Lenovo Software
Understanding the threats
Those with malicious or criminal intents often target schools through a wide range of threats. In fact, education is the most-targeted industry for cyberattacks by far, with 83% of enterprise attacks affecting the education sector in February-March 2022. As technology continues to revolutionize education, schools rely more heavily on digital solutions to support everything from teaching to operations. Consequently, educators must invest in robust content filtering and threat protection solutions to protect their school networks.
Yet, digital safety extends beyond filtering harmful content or preventing malware threats. A holistic digital safety strategy should also aim to protect the online safety of the students who attend the school. Students are encountering digital dangers at an alarmingly high rate both at home and in the classroom. The Pew Research Center found that 35% of girls in the 15-17 age range have received unwanted explicit images, as have 20% of boys of those ages. Moreover, they found that more than 59% of U.S. teenagers say they’ve been harassed or bullied online. Ultimately, school administrators and IT teams must work to implement comprehensive digital safety strategies that protect their schools and students alike.
Building an online safety ecosystem for schools
To protect against digital threats, school safety solutions must address these three key areas:
- Content filtering and threat protection – It’s important to deploy software that protects the school network from external threats like ransomware, malware, and other attacks. If possible, choose a solution that also restricts access to adult content, gambling, weapons, terrorism, alcohol, tobacco, and other inappropriate content. Best in class solutions are powered by artificial intelligence, identifying malicious content in real-time instead of relying on static databases that are often weeks or months out of date.
- Monitoring and safety – These solutions monitor student devices for potential risks, including cyberbullying, threats of violence, and illicit content. Ideally, pick a solution that monitors a student’s device instead of just their school account to ensure comprehensive coverage. The purpose is to alert caring adults to potentially harmful behavior so they can proactively offer support and guidance.
- Classroom management – Classroom management software gives teachers the ability to view student screens as they work, whether they’re in class or learning from home. Teachers can also block specific sites students can access, so they can keep kids safe and on track. The best classroom management solutions also provide messaging so teachers can better address student questions and social emotional learning needs in the moment.
How to vet online safety solutions for schools
Edtech solutions abound, so it’s important to ask the right questions when evaluating e-safety vendors. Every school has different student demographics and unique needs, but here are a few general questions to ask online safety vendors:
Content filtering and threat protection
- Does the solution meet compliance requirements (e.g. CIPA, COPPA, Friendly Wi-Fi, etc)?
- Is it a hardware solution that requires updates/patches to be downloaded and installed, or is it a SaaS offering that continually updates?
- Does the solution utilize artificial intelligence?
- What types of threats does the filter block (e.g. malware, phishing, botnets, cryptomining)?
- Does the solution enable the user to choose the filtering categories they would like to use?
- How many domains can be added to an allow or deny list?
- How quickly does the filtering work? Are domains scanned in real time?
- What languages are supported?
- Can the solution catch previously unreported threats from new or suspicious domains?
- How does the filter verify which sites are threats? Is it using reliable data?
- Which operating systems does the solution work with (e.g. Chrome, Windows and/or Mac OS)?
Monitoring and safety
- Does the solution monitor the full device or is it tied to a school account and only able to monitor keystrokes when the students are online?
- Does the solution monitor all of the channels where students can access /share sensitive information using their device? For example, can it scan for phrases they type in a Google Doc, even if the phrase is later deleted?
- What types of information does the solution flag?
- Online predators
- Adult content
- Drug use
- Suicidal ideation
- Does the solution include features for sharing content and communicating with parents?
- Does the solution meet compliance requirements (e.g. CIPA, COPPA, Friendly Wi-Fi, etc)?
- Is the solution encrypted?
- Are teachers able to see what students are currently working on, whether they’re in class or learning remotely? In other words, does the solution offer a cloud-based option for distance learning?
- Can teachers limit students’ online access to certain websites without having to go through the IT team (e.g. block certain sites during a test)?
- Does the solution offer additional features and benefits, such as screen sharing, messaging, blank screen, and battery status?
- Does the solution offer automatic rostering to help simplify set up?
- Can the system push automatic updates to scale with specific school or district needs?
How Lenovo supports a holistic digital safety approach
Student and school online safety is a central focus for Lenovo, the owners of Lenovo NetFilter and LanSchool. The new Lenovo NetFilter and Lenovo NetFilter+ solutions offered in conjunction with LanSchool make building a safety ecosystem both easy and affordable.
Lenovo NetFilter and Lenovo NetFilter+
Lenovo NetFilter is a cloud-based security software that uses artificial intelligence to categorize both known and unknown domains to help detect and stop malicious malware. This zero-day threat protection means schools stay on top of the latest threats, without requiring exhaustive research and manual input from school IT teams.
Because it is cloud-based, the software works with school devices no matter where they roam so students remain protected and devices do not bring any destructive malware back to the school network. Additionally, Lenovo NetFilter is compliant with data privacy and other regulations required by CIPA, COPPA, the Internet Watch Foundation, Friendly Wi-Fi, and others.
IT administrators can also upgrade to Lenovo NetFilter+ to detect threats like cyberbullying, discussions of self-harm, and the use of mature content. The keystroke monitoring capability monitors student devices for concerning keywords and sends alerts to educators so they can work to provide early intervention.
As a pioneer and innovator of classroom management software, LanSchool,Lenovo’s award-winning software, has been committed to supporting school and student safety for over thirty years. With LanSchool, teachers can guide classroom learning and keep students safer online with easy-to-use device protection features. Quickly view every student screen — or switch to view individual screens – and keep students safer and focused on their work by limiting online access to approved websites. Plus, students and teachers can easily send messages through the software, giving students another outlet to meet their social emotional learning needs.
With approximately 12 million global users, the solution is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Chromebook devices, and set up is easy with automatic rostering integrations like Clever and Google Classroom. Most importantly, LanSchool offers both cloud-based and self-hosted options at a single price, ensuring education continuity whether learning happens in the classroom, is blended, or occurs in a fully remote setting. In this climate, students are spending more time than ever online, and we’re committed to keeping them as safe as possible.
Bringing it all together
Protecting students doesn’t have to mean going overbudget, and it also doesn’t mean settling for an incomplete solution. For this reason, Lenovo is excited to offer schools a complete ecosystem of innovative online safety tools, while managing cost and efficiency.
Yet these tools are not a replacement for an engaged parent or a caring teacher — they’re a support system to help identify concerns earlier so educators and guardians can take meaningful action in supporting and connecting with their students. Digital safety is a multi-faceted challenge, but with the help of the right tools, Lenovo enables teachers, school administrators, and IT staff to help protect their schools and work to create better outcomes for all students.
Looking to learn more about LanSchool or Lenovo NetFilter? Get in touch with our team to find out how these solutions can help you build a comprehensive safety strategy for your school.