Schools Lack Cybersecurity Training As Students Grow Cybersavvy

Schools Lack Cybersecurity Training As Students Grow Cybersavvy
Schools Lack Cybersecurity Training As Students Grow Cybersavvy 0001143 

By Larry Greenemeier
Jun 27, 2007

Schools need to take the lead in educating kids about the dangers of the 
Internet, taking into account the fact that their students are growing 
increasingly tech-savvy every year. Those are the main findings of the 
School Safety Index published Tuesday by CDW Government Inc., a wholly 
owned subsidiary of CDW Corp., which sells IT products and services to 
schools and government agencies.

CDW-G's School Safety Index is a research project to benchmark the 
status of public school districts' safety and emergency response 
programs. It's based on 14 elements of physical and cybersafety -- 
including data monitoring, security software, and safety education -- 
and includes responses from 381 school district IT and security 

The School Safety Index indicates that while 95% of districts surveyed 
are blocking Web sites, 89% are placing computer monitors so that adults 
in the classroom can see them, and 81% are monitoring student Internet 
activity, only 38% have a closed district network that provides them 
with control over the content students can access and the communications 
they can send and receive. For those who do have a closed network, an 
emerging challenge for educators and IT directors is the ability of 
tech-savvy students to build proxy sites that get around closed 

On a positive note, nearly every district surveyed said is has an 
acceptable-use policy that defines how students are permitted to use 
school computers and networks. Still, 37% say they update these policies 
less than once annually. And only 8% of districts provide cybersafety 
training to students. Respondents indicated that they rely more on 
filtering software to protect networks than on actively engaging 
students to be part of the safety solution.

"Popular social networking sites such as Facebook have just opened up to 
high school users in the last year, which means that many districts have 
no stated policy about students using district resources, especially 
bandwidth, to access these sites," Bob Kirby, senior director of grades 
K-12 for CDW-G, said in a statement.

The study comes at a time when parents and educators are struggling to 
understand how their children and students can use the Web to learn and 
interact with other Web users while at the same time keeping these 
children safe from sexual predators and pornographers. The Pew Internet 
& American Life Project and security vendor Webroot Software have each 
recently released reports that measure, among other things, how often 
children are contacted online by strangers or received sexually explicit 

IT managers likewise have a vested interest in keeping tabs on the 
content their users send and receive. In January, a jury found former 
Connecticut substitute teacher Julie Amero guilty of four counts of risk 
of injury to a minor after her classroom computer in October 2004 
started displaying pornographic pop-up advertisements. Amero was later 
granted a new trial, but her ordeal sparked a controversy over the role 
that IT managers and executives should play in ensuring that PCs and 
other equipment are secured in such a way that only appropriate content 
is provided to end users.

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