Dec 09 2009

Cyberthreats Create Challenges for School IT Pros

IT managers are struggling with mobile security strategies in K-12 school districts.


If you spend a good portion of your day sitting in front of a desktop computer, toting your notebook or netbook to meetings, or checking your handheld device for updated information, you realize how important the digital world is for gathering information and acting upon it.

Our EdTech staff realizes the importance of accessibility, too. In addition to the print and online versions of EdTech, you can now receive content via e-mail in the form of our e-newsletters. These will provide examples of how IT leaders are utilizing technology at their schools, best practices from experts in the field, white papers and more. To subscribe to the e-newsletters, please visit

And if a part of your news gathering and research includes Twitter, make sure to check out @EdTech_K12 ( for the latest case studies, product reviews and other online news.
We hope this content provides useful information to help you make important IT decisions within your institution.

In This Issue

Mobile security in K–12 districts is becoming more of a challenge for IT managers as the number of mobile computing devices and cyberthreats continues to multiply, while dollars devoted to IT become more scarce by the day.

According to Gartner's John Pescatore, the problem of mobile security in K–12 settings is pretty straightforward, even if the solutions are not.

“Kids don't seem to lose these machines, and the schools keep them under tight controls in their buildings,” he says. “The main concern is protecting their networks and doing it on tight budgets.”

IT managers in educational settings emphasize that, even if the budgets were comparable, security strategies in school districts by necessity would be different from those in the corporate world because the mission is different.

Twitter: To keep updated on the latest education technology trends, best practices, case studies and product reviews, follow @EdTech_K12 on Twitter (

“Sometimes we have to ask the question, ‘Do we lock it down so tight that students can't explore and do things they want to do?'” says CTO Karen Fuller of Klein Independent School District in Klein, Texas. “Where do we open the shades and raise the windows so that they have the ability to be productive but still be monitored? We have to find that happy medium almost on a daily basis.”
For more about how school districts are finding solutions to mobile security challenges, turn to “Protective Custody.”

When looking for ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs, many school districts have turned to virtualization. But is the technology a panacea for schools' budgetary and manageability needs? Before jumping into the virtualization ring, IT leaders recommend you thoroughly evaluate your situation.

There are many questions about virtualization that deserve answers, but the key is limiting them upfront by doing your homework before moving forward, says James Jung, enterprise architect with Portland Public Schools in Oregon.

“First we worked with VMware to do a consolidation study and determine what could be virtualized, and what could be virtualized painlessly,” he says. “By doing the study before diving in, we discovered not only that virtualization was a good fit for our organization, but that a phased approach was best for us. It saved us a lot of problems down the line.”

To learn about the questions to address before going virtual, read “Ready or Not?

A recent TNS study reports that people spend nearly 30 percent of their free time online, and most of that time is spent searching for and reading news. Meanwhile, data from The Nielsen Co. shows that people are using social networking more than ever. This year, Americans spent 17 percent of their Internet time using social networking sites – nearly triple the time spent on such sites in 2008.

Ryan Petersen